Game Ninety: Cubs (46-43) vs. Nationals (26-64)
Game Time – 12:35pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 186
Location – Nationals Park, Washington D.C.
Kevin Hart (0-1, 1.69/1.59) vs. Garrett Mock (0-2, 6.92/1.85)
Updated 9;52am C.T. – Sam Fuld Optioned to Triple-A to make room for Kevin Hart
The Cubs will shoot for their fourth in a row this afternoon and the series sweep of the Washington Nationals behind Kevin Hart. Hart was with the Cubs on Saturday and will make his second big league start a day earlier than anticipated. Hart was slated to pitch the opener in Philadelphia on Monday but the injury to Ted Lilly pushed up his return to the Cubs.
In order for Hart to start, the Cubs will have to make a roster move. Look for a position player, likely Sam Fuld, to return to Triple-A to make room for Hart. With the makeup against the Astros on July 30, the Cubs have only one day off (Thursday, July 23) between today and August 6. The Cubs do not figure to stay with an 11-man pitching staff, especially with all of the work the pen has logged out of the break.
The Cubs’ bullpen, which was ranked 15th in May and currently sits sixth in the NL with a 3.79 ERA, has been over-used in the first three games of the series against the Nationals due to short starts by Rich Harden, Carlos Zambrano and Randy Wells. It is past time for Kevin Hart to step up and pitch to his ability. The Cubs have only two pitchers that have not thrown in the series, Jeff Samardzija and Jeff Stevens. Depending on which way they go with the roster move, it could be a long day for Kevin Hart if he cannot throw strikes.
Kevin Gregg’s availability today is doubtful at best after working 1 2/3 innings on Saturday, as well as the first two games of the series … and the same can be said about Sean Marshall.
The Cubs will have a new coach in uniform on Monday according to a report from Carrie Muskat. Kyosuke Sasaki will join the team in Philadelphia. Sasaki was Kosuke Fukudome’s hitting coach in Japan and worked with Fukudome in the off-season. Sasaki will travel with the team to Chicago on Wednesday and remain with the Cubs to “work with Fukudome all he wants.”
While the offense must do their job against Garrett Mock, it all begins with Kevin Hart … and one win at a time. Kevin Hart will make his second start of the season for the Cubs today. Hart was wild in his first big league start but kept his team in the game. Hart walked five Atlanta Braves but gave up only one run on four hits in five innings. Hart was optioned back to Iowa the next day (July 9) in order to make room for Jeff Stevens.
Kevin Hart pitched one game down in the minors. He gave up two runs on three hits in four innings with a walk and three strikeouts for the Peoria Chiefs.
The Cubs need an improved outing from Kevin Hart this afternoon. While he allowed just the one run in his last outing, the five free passes ran up his pitch count and shortened his outing.
Hart’s biggest issue at the Major League level has been pitching with adversity. Since showing a lot of promise during his debut in September of 2007, Hart has quit attacking hitters and appears to try to throw the perfect pitch once he gets into trouble. Hart has very good stuff but must stop nibbling.
This afternoon will be Kevin Hart’s first career appearance against the Nationals.
- Adam Dunn – 1-for-1 with a home run
- Nyjer Morgan – 0-for-1
The Cubs will get their second look at Garrett Mock today. Mock faced the Cubs last year at Wrigley on August 23. The Cubs scored a run (a home run by Mark DeRosa) on one hit in 1 2/3 innings … Mock struck out two and did not give up a walk.
Garrett Mock will make his first start of the season today. In 13 games at the big league level he has pitched just 13 innings … all out of the pen. The Cubs must make him work and take advantage of a pitcher that has struggled at the big league level. Mock was sent down to Triple-A in May and posted a 5-1 record in eight starts with a 2.56 ERA. The Nationals showed the Cubs on Saturday night they can score enough runs to win and it will be up to the offense to get into that questionable, at best, Nationals’ pen.
Mock is 0-2 in seven home games (8 1/3 innings) this year with two blown saves and a hold. Mock has allowed seven runs, all earned, on 10 hits with five walks and two strikeouts (7.56 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP).
- Reed Johnson – 0-for-1
- Derrek Lee – 0-for-1
- Aramis Ramirez – 0-for-1
- Ryan Theriot – 0-for-1
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….
Update – According to a report from the Sun-Times, Sam Fuld was optioned to Triple-A Iowa in order to make room on the active roster for Kevin Hart. The Cubs’ pitching staff now stands at 12.