Game Eighty-Six: Cubs (37-48) vs. Pirates (53-33)
- Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 183/844
- Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Villanueva (2-4, 3.45/1.17) vs. A.J. Burnett (4-6, 3.12/1.13)
The Cubs wrap up the three-game series with the Pirates this afternoon with a chance at winning another series. The Cubs have won four of their last six series and will face a big challenge with A.J. Burnett returning from the disabled list.
Not only will the Cubs’ offense have the tough task of putting runs on the board against Burnett, but the Cubs will need Carlos Villanueva to go as deep as he can on his 60-70 pitches he is limited to this afternoon in order to minimize the amount of relievers used in “bullpen day.” Villanueva is making his first start since the middle of May after throwing 2 2/3 innings in the opener in Oakland last Tuesday.
Brian Bogusevic could return to the starting lineup this afternoon. Bogusevic was able to take batting practice on Saturday after leaving Thursday’s game with tightness in his left hamstring. Lefties have hit much better than righties against Burnett this season (.245/.376/.310 – .174/.214/.266), so Dale Sveum should load his lineup with as many lefties as possible this afternoon. And if Bogusevic can go, even with Alfonso Soriano hitting two home runs on Saturday, it might be a good day to give Soriano a breather based on Soriano’s career numbers against Burnett.
This afternoon all starts with Carlos Villanueva …
Carlos Villanueva is making his first start this afternoon since May 14. Villanueva spent the first month of the season in the Cubs’ rotation before going to the pen once Matt Garza was healthy enough to return to the starting staff. Villanueva was 1-1 in five starts in April with a 2.29 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP.
Villanueva has been inconsistent at best since moving to the pen in the middle of May. In 16 relief appearances, Villanueva posted a 1-1 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. In 17 2/3 innings, Villanueva gave up six runs, four earned, on 17 hits with 16 strikeouts and five walks.
Carlos Villanueva is 1-2 in 12 games, five starts, at Wrigley this season with a 3.99 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.
Villanueva makes his first start of the season against the Pirates today. In three relief appearances against the Mighty Pirates, Villanueva has allowed one run on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts in five innings (1.80 ERA, 1.40 WHIP). For his career, Villanueva is 2-2 in 23 appearances, two starts, with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP.
Pirates Career Numbers against Carlos Villanueva
- Pedro Alvarez – 1-for-2 with a walk
- Clint Barmes – 2-for-5
- Brandon Inge – 4-for-10
- Garrett Jones – 4-for-6 with two home runs and two walks
- Starling Marte – 0-for-2
- Russell Martin – 5-for-10 with a double, a home run and two walks
- Andrew McCutchen – 2-for-11 with a double
- Michael McKenry – 0-for-1
- Jordy Mercer – 1-for-2 with a double
- Gaby Sanchez – 0-for-2
- Travis Snider – 0-for-2
- Jose Tabata – 0-for-2
- Neil Walker – 1-for-3
A.J. Burnett has been on the DL since June 9 with a strained right calf. The last start Burnett made was on June 8 at Wrigley when he beat the Cubs after coming just two outs short of a complete game shutout. Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer off Burnett in the ninth to break up the shutout. Burnett was coming off a rough outing against Atlanta after posting a 1-3 record in six starts in May with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.
A.J. Burnett has been very good during his career when he has faced the Cubs. Burnett is 7-2 in 10 starts against the Cubs with a 3.08 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Even with losing on Opening Day to Jeff Samardzija, Burnett is 1-1 in two starts this year with a 3.21 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP (10 hits, four walks and 15 strikeouts in 14 innings).
The Cubs should really make Burnett test his legs early in the game.
Cubs Career Numbers against A.J. Burnett
- Darwin Barney – 2-for-9 with a walk
- Brian Bogusevic – 2-for-10
- Julio Borbon – 1-for-10
- Welington Castillo – 2-for-6 with two doubles
- Starlin Castro – 8-for-19
- Scott Hairston – 2-for-3
- Dioner Navarro – 6-for-29 with a double and a home run
- Cody Ransom – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Anthony Rizzo – 3-for-12 with a home run and two walks
- Nate Schierholtz – 4-for-8 with a double and a walk
- Alfonso Soriano – 6-for-29 with a home run
- Luis Valbuena – 0-for-12 with two walks
Let’s Talk Cubs’ Baseball …