Misc. Notes from Cubs.com

  • The Cubs have dropped their last eight series-opening games dating to May 28
  • Saturday’s game will mark the Cubs’ 20,000th regular season contest since the franchise’s inception in 1876. Chicago is slated to become the first major league club to reach 20,000 major league regular season games.
  • Chicago hurlers yesterday struck out 14 Mariners hitters, tying the pitching staff’s season high
  • The Cubs bullpen has a 2.77 ERA (16 ER/52.0 IP) in June, and is looking to lower its mark in each of the first three months of the season. Chicago’s relievers posted a 3.96 ERA (34 ER/77.1 IP) in May after producing a 4.80 ERA (35 ER/65.2 IP) in April.
  • Marlon Byrd has hit safely in his last 10 road games dating to June 4 (Might be a good play for Beat the Streak)
  • The Cubs have played 38 games decided by two or fewer runs, fifth-most in baseball – the club is 14-24 (.368) in games decided by two or fewer runs. Moreover, Chicago has played in 27 one-run games, most in the majors – the Cubs are 11-16 in one-run games. The 16 setbacks are tied for most in the majors with Kansas City.

Probable Pitchers for the Series

Carlos Zambrano (3-5, 5.10 ERA) vs. Jake Peavy (6-5, 5.07 ERA)

Zambrano did not face the White Sox in the team’s first Interleague series at Wrigley Field. The right-hander is coming off his best outing since returning to the rotation June 4. Against the Angels, he gave up one run on eight hits over seven innings and struck out seven. The seven innings were a season high, and he picked up his first win at Wrigley since July 12, 2009. The right-hander will miss hitting at the American League ballpark. He had two singles and drove in a run in his last start.

Peavy is set to take on the Cubs again. In his last outing against the Nationals, he was the Peavy who won the 2007 NL Cy Young Award, pitching a shutout. More impressively, he yielded just three hits and two walks for the duration of the game. Before the game, such an output would have been unexpected, considering he had a fluid buildup in his right shoulder. On Tuesday, Peavy said, “There’s not tears or any significant injuries in there that you can make worse by pitching. That was the biggest thing with me, knowing we’re structurally sound. Certainly I want to get out there and I want to be healthy enough to throw bullpens in between, really throw a baseball to work on things and not have to take the mound like we have the last couple times.” Two starts ago, Peavy took on the Cubs, going seven innings and giving up two runs in a 10-5 White Sox win.

Strength – Has a lethal arsenal of pitches that leads to strikeouts by the bushel. Is a work horse and a great leader of a pitching staff. Can dominate on the mound, but is also a pretty good control artist.

Weakness – Injuries are a concern, especially because of his taxing workload. Left-handed hitters have more success than righties, relatively speaking.

Carlos Silva (8-2, 3.01 ERA) vs. Freddy Garcia (8-3, 4.85 ERA)

Silva was supposed to start Thursday against his former team, the Mariners, but the right hamstring tweak that got him pulled from his last start after 69 pitches forced the Cubs to juggle the rotation, so now Silva will pitch against the White Sox. Silva is coming off his second straight loss, but it was his team-leading 10th quality start. He won his first eight decisions with the Cubs and has dropped two in a row, although he has pitched well enough to win both. If he goes deep, he’s tough. Silva has a 2.07 ERA when he throws at least six innings.

Garcia got another win in his last start, going seven innings and allowing three runs against the Nationals. Washington scored all three runs in a big third inning. In the frame, Cristian Guzman led off the inning with a triple, followed by Adam Dunn’s RBI fielder’s choice. After the game, Dunn admitted it was hard to pick up the ball out of Garcia’s hand. “He had a lot of movement on all of his pitches,” Dunn said. “He is really deceptive being a big guy. He hides the ball very well. He was tough to pick up. He was just tough today.” Lifetime against the Cubs, Garcia is 4-0 in five starts with an anemic 1.25 ERA.

Strength – Keeps hitters off balance with a smooth but explosive delivery and natural movement. Is confident in throwing his change-up. Doesn’t get rattled, even when he doesn’t have good stuff.

Weakness – Health has always been a massive issue, so these days he’s anything but durable or reliable. Has some command problems against left-handed hitters, and he pays for it usually.

Ryan Dempster (5-6, 3.56 ERA) vs. John Danks (7-5, 3.23 ERA)

Danks struggled early in his last start against the Braves, but he settled down quite nicely, at one point getting 10 consecutive batters out en route to putting up his third consecutive win. He did not allow another run, and only two singles after those rough first two innings. “My job tonight was to keep it at three,” Danks said. “It was fortunate that these guys gave us nine. It made it a little bit easier on us.” Lifetime against the Cubs, Danks is 2-0 in three starts, with a sparkling 0.90 ERA over those 20 innings.

Strength – His change-up is great and his curve isn’t far behind, both complementing his low-90s fastball. Has a good mind for the game and knows how to pitch.

Weakness – Tends to leave his fastball up a little too often, leading to too many home runs allowed. Command and control can be an issue from time to time.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail