Probable Pitchers

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Friday @ 9:10 pm CT – Jeff Samardzija vs. Chad Billingsley

Samardzija notched his 11th quality start in his last outing, but did not get a decision. He is 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA in his last five starts, giving up seven runs over 33 innings in that stretch. Billingsley dismissed the notion that two weeks off to rest his elbow has turned around his season, but he has delivered two of his better starts after suffering through a five-game losing streak.

Saturday @ 8:10 pm CT – Chris Volstad vs. Clayton Kershaw

Volstad was called up from Triple-A Iowa after Paul Maholm and Ryan Dempster were traded. He’s still looking for that first Major League win since July 10. In his last game for Iowa, he scattered four hits over eight shutout innings. Kershaw showed what makes him special by rebounding from one of his worst starts of the season in St. Louis with his second shutout of the year, this one against the Giants to complete a sweep.

Sunday @ 3:10 pm CT – Justin Germano vs. Aaron Harang

Germano picked up the win in his first start for the Cubs Monday, giving up two runs on four hits and two walks over five innings vs. the Pirates. It helped that the Cubs scored nine runs in the fifth. He’s 0-4 with a 5.93 ERA in six games vs. L.A. After containing the Cardinals in St. Louis, Harang was roughed up at home by the D-backs, with Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Johnson slugging home runs. He’s lost three of his last five decisions.

Our Take

As an LA resident, I almost always look forward to the Cubs’ trips to Southern California. Almost always.

I would say The Dread Pirate Samardzija gives the Cubs a pretty good chance to win tonight, but the prospect of witnessing Chris Volstad in person already has me dry heaving. I was SO much more excited for Saturday’s game before I heard he’d been penciled in for the start. As for Germano, I thought he did reasonably well on Monday, and for now at least, I’m not retching at the thought of his next start.

But this is probably what we have to look forward to for the last couple months of the season–ineffective spot starts from guys who wouldn’t otherwise take the mound. It’s not a rosy outlook, but it wouldn’t make much sense to spend or give up anything just to cover two months worth of starting duties. Don’t be surprised if they kick the tires on a few cast-offs–especially cast-offs Theo & Jed already know. But other than a possible scrap heap pickup, expect the Cubs rotation to be a wheel of periodic and spectacular misfortune.

Southern California readers–which games will you be attending? A VFTB meet-up might be the only thing that salvages some of these games.

Series Prediction: Pain and frustration. An ugly 1-2.

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