Game One Hundred Twenty-Four: Cubs (53-70) vs. Nationals (60-63)
- Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 186/844
- Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Jeff Samardzija (6-11, 4.29/1.36/3.60) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (14-6, 3.02/1.09/3.39)
The Cubs’ ten-game homestand continues tonight with the first of four against the Nationals. The Cubs took two of three from the Nationals in D.C. back in May and will look to finish the homestand on a positive note. The Cubs have really struggled at Wrigley this year (24-38) and are 1-9 at home this month.
The Cubs are not hitting with runners in scoring position, and have not all season. The offensively challenged Cubs are 2-for-26 with RISP over the last six games. And it will not get any easier against the Nationals’ pitching staff.
After tonight’s match-up of Jeff Samardzija and Jordan Zimmermann, Chris Rusin is scheduled to face Dan Haren on Tuesday night. But the Nationals might make a change and could decide to go with Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday. Haren picked up the save in Saturday night’s 15-inning marathon against the Braves. Strasburg started the game but was ejected in the second inning for hitting Justin Upton in retaliation for the Braves hitting Bryce Harper twice on Friday night.
If the Nationals do not change their rotation, Jake Arrieta is scheduled to face Ross Ohlendorf on Wednesday and Travis Wood will take on Stephen Strasburg in the finale on Thursday afternoon.
The Cubs will see a very familiar face in the visitor’s dugout tonight. Not only is Scott Hairston making his return to Wrigley, but the recently traded David DeJesus will be wearing a Nationals’ uniform for the next four days. The Nationals feel they still have a chance at the post-season and are looking to reach .500 during their trip to Chicago. Scott Hairston makes his return to Wrigley for the next four games and will be a factor in the series with Chris Rusin and Travis Wood starting two games. Bryce Harper will play his first games at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs have activated Brian Bogusevic from the 15-day DL to take DeJesus’ spot on the active roster.
FIP and BABIP … Moving forward, the game previews will contain two additional stats, FIP and BABIP. A pitcher’s FIP (fielding independent pitching) will be the third slash line for the day’s starting pitchers. FIP is a measure of all things for which a pitcher is specifically responsible. FIP is a good way to tell how well a pitcher has pitched, regardless of how well the defense played behind him … because as we all know, fielders misplay balls that are not charged as errors.
A player’s BABIP for the season will be added to the player’s career line against the day’s starting pitcher, but only for the Cubs. FanGraphs is an excellent source for the BABIP of every player in the league. BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is a measure of the number of batted balls that safely fall in for a hit, not including home runs. The Major League average is around .300.
Tonight and the four-game series all starts with Jeff Samardzija …
Jeff Samardzija is in need of a good outing tonight. With where the Cubs are right now as a team and an organization, whether he wins or loses today is irrelevant but this start is more about how he pitches. Samardzija is in the middle of his toughest stretch as a starter. He has not been commanding his fastball and appears to have little feel for his secondary stuff. When he has been missing his spots, he is missing by a lot and not a little.
Since July 1, Samardzija has walked 26 batters and surrendered 55 hits with only 43 strikeouts in 46 innings (1.76 WHIP).
Jeff Samardzija is 0-2 in his last three starts with a 9.39 ERA and a 2.15 WHIP and the Dodgers, Phillies and Cardinals have hit .353 against him.
Samardzija faces the Nationals for the second time this season tonight. Samardzija didn’t pitch very well in D.C. and allowed seven runs, five earned, on eight hits with five strikeouts in five innings. For his career, Samardzija is 1-2 against the Nationals in 10 games, three starts, with a 2.76 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.
Nationals Career Numbers against Jeff Samardzija
- Roger Bernadina – 2-for-9
- Ian Desmond – 8-for-13 with three doubles and a home run
- Scott Hairston – 0-for-2
- Bryce Harper – 0-for-3
- Adam LaRoche – 4-for-11 with two home runs
- Wilson Ramos – 2-for-6
- Denard Span – 1-for-5 with a double and a walk
- Chad Tracy – 0-for-2
- Jayson Werth – 3-for-13 with a home run and a walk
- Ryan Zimmerman – 0-for-13 with a walk
- Jordan Zimmermann – 0-for-1
Unfortunately for the Cubs, they will have the pleasure of facing the Nationals best starting pitcher to begin the series. Jordan Zimmermann has been very good for Davey Johnson this year and is coming off an excellent outing against the Giants. Zimmermann allowed one run on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts in seven innings. Zimmermann is 2-0 in his last three starts with a 1.59 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP.
Zimmermann has not been as good in the road this year as he’s been at Nationals Park. Zimmermann is 4-4 in nine starts with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP.
Without the Cubs, the Nationals might not have Jordan Zimmermann. The Nationals selected Zimmermann with the comp pick they received when the Cubs signed Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs missed Zimmermann in D.C. this season and he is 1-3 in five career starts against the Cubs with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP … at Wrigley, 0-2 in two starts with a 3.29 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against Jordan Zimmermann
- Darwin Barney (.233) – 2-for-11 with a double and a walk
- Welington Castillo (.349) – 0-for-1
- Starlin Castro (.292) – 3-for-13 with a double and a triple
- Darnell McDonald (.200) – 0-for-2
- Cody Ransom (.256) – 1-for-5
- Anthony Rizzo (.256) – 2-for-5 with a home run and a walk
- Jeff Samardzija – 0-for-2
- Nate Schierholtz (.295) – 3-for-10 with two doubles
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …