Courtesy of MLB.com
Dempster was the only pitcher to win on the Cubs last 10-game road trip. He has not given up a run in his last 15 innings, and has 1.06 ERA on the road. All he needs is a little offensive support. The righty held his own in his first start back from Tommy John surgery, giving up five hits and four runs while striking out eight in a five-inning stint against the Nationals. This is Matsuzaka’s first career start at Wrigley Field.
Samardzija couldn’t get a feel for his split-finger pitch in his last outing against the Twins, who feasted on his fastball. The right-hander served up a season-high eight runs over 3 2/3 innings. He called it a “learning experience.” Lester hasn’t gotten into a sustained groove yet this season. The lefty pitched well in his last start, giving up three runs and striking out nine over seven innings. This is his first career start at Wrigley Field.
Maholm didn’t get a win in his last outing against the Tigers but deserved one. He struck out a season-high seven and took advantage of the wind blowing in. He earned the win in his one career start vs. the Red Sox. The righty gave up four runs in the first two innings of his last start, then didn’t allow a hit over the last five. Beckett walked one and struck out five over that seven-inning loss to the Marlins. Beckett is 0-3 in three career starts at Wrigley.
by Jeremiah Johnson
The Red Sox come to town severely under-performing. Last year they took a historic nose-dive to end the season and miss the playoffs. This year they’ve played poorly from the start, offering their fans no illusions about postseason glory. While they’re not parting off the team (yet), they’re also in a kind of rebuilding mode, albeit a much less dramatic or lengthy project than the Cubs have undertaken.
Boston, like most of the squads we’ve faced, is a better team on paper than the Cubs. However injuries and slow starts have kept them consistently beatable. The Cubs’ new-found love of seeing pitches ought to help them get into a bullpen that has looked lost and surprisingly ineffective at times this season. And with Dempster, Samardzija, and Maholm on the mound, we’re trotting out three starters who have been fairly effective this season, and who the Red Sox won’t have had much experience against. If the Cubs’ bats are at all productive and the starters don’t fall to pieces early, we ought to have a shot at taking this series. Maybe even the sweep.