Game Fifty-Two: Cubs (27-24) vs. Nationals (29-24)
- Game Time – 6:05pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: WGN-TV Ch. 9 – Radio: WBBM 780, Cubs Radio Network, XM Radio Channels 89, 844
- Location – Nationals Park, Washington D.C.
Jake Arrieta (4-4, 3.18/1.09/2.90) vs. Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 4.73/1.53/3.04)
Weather permitting … The Cubs open a four-game series with the Nationals tonight and will spend the weekend in the Nation’s Capital taking on the first place Washington Nationals.
The Cubs dropped two of three to Washington last week at Wrigley but Joe Maddon’s young team hung with Matt Williams’ first place Nationals. The Cubs were outscored over the three game series 7-4. The Nationals’ offense will get a huge boost with the return of Anthony Rendon, who was activated from the DL on Thursday and will make his 2015 debut.
The Cubs are in need of a big outing from Jake Arrieta. The Cubs lost the last two in Miami and are coming off one of their worst games of the season. Arrieta has a chance to set a tone for the entire series.
After tonight’s match-up of Jake Arrieta and Gio Gonzalez, Tsuyoshi Wada is scheduled to face Tanner Roark on Friday night. The Nationals have not announced a starter for Saturday morning’s game (11:05am CDT). Joe Maddon is giving the ball to Jason Hammel on Saturday. And the finale on Sunday afternoon is slated to be Kyle Hendricks against Jordan Zimmermann.
The last time the Cubs were at Nationals Park, the front office pulled off a rather big trade that netted the team Addison Russell. Less than a year later, Russell will be in the starting lineup in the Cubs’ first game back in D.C.
The Cubs went three weeks in between facing lefty starters, but will face a second southpaw in three games tonight. David Ross should be behind the plate with the success Gio Gonzalez has had against lefties. But lefties (.286/.333/.360) have almost as much success against Gonzalez as right handers (.304/.370/.414) which should lead to Joe Maddon running out a balanced lineup.
The Reds figured out how to beat the Nationals, just hit them with the baseball then complain about it. The Cubs will obviously not use the same game plan but making Gonzalez work in order to see if he is still hurt from getting hit twice by the Reds might lead to early runs.
The Cubs will not see the Nationals again in the regular season after Sunday. And with four games left against one of the best teams in baseball, the Cubs have a chance to win the season series and show the last two days in Miami were the exception and not the new rule.
Tonight all starts with Jake Arrieta …
Jake Arrieta missed the Nationals last week at Wrigley and the Cubs could really use for the good Jake Arrieta to take the ball tonight. Arrieta’s inconsistent season continued his last time out. Arrieta served up three home runs to the Royals, gave up four runs on eight hits in seven innings and struck out five batters without issuing a free pass. Arrieta has not pitched to expectations every time out this year. And with the injury issues and roster changes that the big league teams is dealing with right now, a shutdown outing from Arrieta tonight would go a long way.
Over his last six starts, Jake Arrieta is just 1-3 with a 3.99 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Teams have hit a robust .271 against Arrieta while he has allowed 39 hits with seven walks and 42 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings.
Jake Arrieta is 2-1 in four road starts this season with a 3.70 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. And he makes his seventh career start against the Nationals tonight.
Arrieta has never beaten the Nationals. He is 0-1 in six starts with a 5.81 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP. At Nationals Park, Arrieta has two no-decisions on his resume with a 1.38 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. Last year, Jake Arrieta made one start and received a no decision after allowing one run on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts in six innings.
Nationals Career Numbers against Jake Arrieta
- Yunel Escobar: 7-for-18 with one home run
- Ian Desmond: 4-for-13 with one home run and two walks
- Ryan Zimmerman: 4-for-14 with one walk
- Denard Span: 3-for-11 with one double and one walk
- Bryce Harper: 4-for-9 with one double and two walks
- Danny Espinosa: 3-for-7 with one triple and one home run
- Wilson Ramos: 1-for-2 with one walk
- Jose Lobaton: 0-for-2
- Dan Uggla: 1-for-2
Gio Gonzalez pitched better than his final line indicates his last time out. The Reds used the philosophy of hit all of the other players in order to win the game. Gonzalez was hit two times and he could not pitch through the pain. Gonzalez received a no-decision after allowing four runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
Gonzalez has been just as inconsistent as Jake Arrieta this season. One outing he is lights out, the next, well not so much. Gonzalez is 3-0 in his last six starts with a 4.54 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. At home this year, Gonzalez is 2-0 in four starts with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP.
Gio Gonzalez has had his way with the Cubs over the course of his career. The lefty is 3-1 in six starts with a 2.39 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. Last season, Gonzalez was 2-0 in two starts with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.60 WHIP … and those numbers are not typos. Gonzalez gave up only six hits with three walks and 14 strikeouts over 15 shutout innings against the Cubs.
Cubs Career Numbers against Gio Gonzalez
- Starlin Castro: 5-for-14 with two walks
- Dexter Fowler: 5-for-11 with one double, one home run and one walk
- Anthony Rizzo: 0-for-11 with one walk
- Junior Lake: 0-for-7
- Chris Coghlan: 2-for-6
- David Ross: 2-for-5 with one walk
- Jonathan Herrera: 1-for-5 with one home run
- Miguel Montero: 1-for-3
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …