Game Three: Cubs (0-2) vs. Pirates (2-0)
- Game Time – 11:35am CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 183, 844
- Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Jason Hammel (0-0, -.–/-.–/-.–) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (0-0, -.–/-.–/-.–)
Weather permitting … The Cubs will try to leave Pittsburgh this afternoon with their first victory of the season. According to Mark Gonzales, Rick Renteria is going to mix up his right-handed lineup today and hit Starlin Castro in the two-hole. Look for Justin Ruggiano to be in the starting lineup along with Mike Olt at third base. John Baker should make his first start of the season after Welington Castillo caught all 16 innings of Wednesday’s game. Baker will likely hit eighth and be the only lefty in the lineup other than Anthony Rizzo.
Jason Hammel makes his first start regular season start in a Cubs’ uniform today. And his manager will need a long, efficient outing from him in the wake of Wednesday’s marathon. Jose Veras will likely be unavailable after his 38-pitch (19 strikes) inning and it is highly doubtful Hector Rondon and Wesley Wright will be available after both relievers tossed two innings less than 12 hours ago.
The Cubs offense continued to struggle with runners in scoring position Wednesday night. After going 0-for-11 with RISP and leaving eight on base in the opener, the Cubs are 1-for-27 with RISP and have left 27 men on base in the first two games. And until that is cleaned up, the losses will continue to mount regardless of how the pitching staff performs.
Today all begins with Jason Hammel …
Jason Hammel makes his Cubs’ debut today after signing a one-year, $8 million contract in the off-season. Hammel spent the last two years in Baltimore and was 7-8 in 26 games, 23 starts, with the O’s a year ago. Hammel surrendered 155 hits in 139 1/3 innings with 48 walks and 96 strikeouts.
Before his time in Baltimore, Jason Hammel spent three seasons in Colorado and is 1-1 in two games, one start, at PNC Park with a 4.70 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP. For his career, Hammel is 2-1 in four appearances, three starts, against the Bucs with a 4.35 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP.
Pirates Career Numbers against Jason Hammel
- Travis Ishikawa: 2-for-14
- Russell Martin: 1-for-13 with one walk
- Andrew McCutchen: 3-for-9 with one home run
- Gaby Sanchez: 1-for-7 with one home run
- Pedro Alvarez: 1-for-5 with one home run and one walk
- Wandy Rodriguez: 1-for-5
- Neil Walker: 2-for-5
- Jose Tabata: 1-for-3
- Clint Barmes: 0-for-2
Wandy Rodriguez dealt with injuries last season and made only 12 starts for the Pirates a year ago. Rodriguez was 6-4 in those 12 starts with a 3.59 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. Rodriguez was shutdown in September with tightness in his flexor tendon and reported to Spring Training pain free. With the loss of A.J. Burnett, the Pirates are depending on Rodriguez to stay healthy all season and pick up the slack.
After struggling early in his career against the Cubs, Rodriguez has had the Cubs’ number for the last several seasons. Rodriguez is 9-7 in 24 career starts against the Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP … Rodriguez was 2-0 in two starts versus the Cubs last season with a 2.13 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP (three runs on eight hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings).
Cubs Career Numbers against Wandy Rodriguez
- Starlin Castro: 4-for-25 with three walks
- Darwin Barney: 7-for-21 with one walk
- Emilio Bonifacio: 3-for-12 with two walks
- Anthony Rizzo: 3-for-10 with one walk
- Welington Castillo: 3-for-9
- Jason Hammel: 0-for-7
- Justin Ruggiano: 1-for-5 with one home run
- Nate Schierholtz: 0-for-3
- Luis Valbuena: 1-for-3
- John Baker: 0-for-2
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …