Game One Hundred Eleven: Cubs (49-61) vs. Dodgers (60-49)
- Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 187/844
- Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Villanueva (2-7, 4.33/1.29) vs. Stephen Fife (3-3, 2.76/1.27)
The Cubs end the eight-game homestand and four-game series against the Dodgers this afternoon in search of a victory. After sweeping the Giants in San Francisco to complete a 6-4 road trip, the Cubs have played some of their worst ball of the season over the last seven games. The Cubs are 1-6 on the homestand, and while the wins and losses matter, the Cubs are not expected to win many games but are expected to play better than they have during this homestand.
The defense has been inconsistent, the offense has struggled and the pitching staff has forgotten how to throw strikes. The staff has walked 12 batters and hit two others in the last 18 innings, while the offense has scored a grand total of two runs on 22 hits over the last two games.
Today’s game ends a string of 18 games in 17 games out of the All-Star break. Dale Sveum’s team is 7-10 with one more to play before a much-needed day off on Monday.
Carlos Villanueva will try to keep the Dodgers off the board this afternoon to give his team a chance to avoid a four-game sweep. Villanueva is coming off a good start against the Brewers and needs to build on it to keep his job in the rotation. The Cubs have not committed to Villanueva staying in the rotation and with the way Jake Arrieta pitched in the nightcap last Tuesday, the Cubs could bring up Arrieta for the rotation and move Villanueva back to the pen.
Zack Greinke was scheduled to start today’s game but Don Mattingly decided on Saturday to push Greinke back to the opener in St. Louis on Monday and start Stephen Fife today. This move works better for the Dodgers on many levels. Greinke does not like pitching at Wrigley. Greinke is 0-2 in his two starts at the old ballyard with a 14.00 ERA and a 2.22 WHIP. And with the Cubs not hitting and the fact the Dodgers have already won the series, inserting Fife for Greinke is the right move for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers are going for their 14th straight road win this afternoon. The last time the Dodgers lost a game on the road was on July 6 in San Francisco … and Stephen Fife started that game.
This afternoon all starts with Carlos Villanueva …
Carlos Villanueva is coming off a better start against the Brewers than his final line indicates. Villanueva started the first game of the day-night doubleheader and limited Milwaukee to a pair of runs over the first six innings. Villanueva turned the game over to James Russell with one out and two on in the seventh. Khris Davis hit Russell’s first pitch into the bleachers in right and closed the book on Villanueva. The veteran right-hander was charged with four runs on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
The Cubs have not fully committed to Villanueva finishing the season in the rotation and he figures to be pitching today to stay in consideration for a starting job.
Carlos Villanueva is 0-3 in his last six games, five starts, with a 6.11 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP. In 15 games, eight starts, at Wrigley Field this season, Villanueva is 1-3 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.
Carlos Villanueva has not fared too well in seven career games against the Dodgers. Villanueva is 1-2 in seven games, one start, with an 11.45 ERA and a 2.36 WHIP. Villanueva last faced the Dodgers in 2010.
Dodgers Career Numbers against Carlos Villanueva
- Carl Crawford – 0-for-4 with a walk
- Mark Ellis – 0-for-1
- Andre Ethier – 2-for-6 with a home run
- Adrian Gonzalez – 3-for-15 with a double and a triple
- Nick Punto – 2-for-8 with a double, a home run and a walk
- Hanley Ramirez – 4-for-8 with a home run
- Skip Schumaker – 6-for-21 with a double, a home run and a walk
- Juan Uribe – 0-for-2
Stephen Fife has been on the DL since July 7 with bursitis in his right shoulder. Fife lasted only 4 1/3 innings in his last start on July 6 against the Giants and was placed on the DL the following day. Fife was pitching extremely well prior to his stint on the disabled list. Fife was 3-2 in his previous six starts with a 2.21 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.
Stephen Fife will make his first regular season appearance against the Cubs this afternoon … but Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will get a firsthand look at the player they selected in the third round of the 2008 draft.
Dioner Navarro (0-for-2) and Nate Schierholtz (0-for-2 with a walk) are the only two players on the Cubs’ active roster that has faced Stephen Fife in a regular season game.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …