Probable Pitchers

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Monday @ 9:05 pm CT – Travis Wood vs. Eric Stults

Wood lost his last start on a pitch he threw and another he didn’t, as he served up a homer and another run scored on a balk. He’s lost four straight after winning four in a row. With Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm gone, the Cubs need Wood to step up. Stults has not made a start since June 3 thanks to a stint on the DL with a strained lat, followed by time spent as the Padres’ long reliever. He is 1-2 with a 3.26 ERA in five starts, and takes the released Kip Wells’ spot in the rotation.

Tuesday @ 9:05 pm CT – TBD vs. Ross Ohlendorf

Ohlendorf struggled in his last outing, yielding six runs in just 1 2/3 innings against the Reds. Prior to that, he had made three straight quality starts, but has a 6.07 ERA in six starts this year. Ohlendorf turns 30 Wednesday.

Wednesday @ 5:35 pm CT – Jeff Samardzija vs. Clayton Richard

Samardzija had a 1.91 ERA in five games in July but gave up five runs in his last start against the Dodgers. He didn’t have good command of his split-finger, which has been his out pitch, and it showed. Padres manager Bud Black didn’t think Richard had his best stuff Friday, which is telling, given that Richard gave up just one run in seven innings. He has 13 quality starts this year, and he is among the NL leaders in innings pitched (152 2/3).

Our Take

You ought to remember the Cubs’ first series against the Padres this season. It was late May, and it spelled the end of Chicago’s 12-game losing streak–or as pessimistic Cubs fans having been calling it, our first 12-game losing streak. However you look at it, the Cubs broke the streak in fine fashion, sweeping the series and reviving Wrigleyville from ghost town status.

The Cubs team that rolls into San Diego tonight is a different squad, with their starting rotation decimated by trades and injuries. And with the recent call-ups of Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, you get the sense these Cubs are not the main event, but a sneak-peak at coming attractions. We’re like the crowds of people in 1998 who paid full price for A Bug’s Life just to see the trailer for The Phantom Menace. Those people seem like idiots now–but will we look back on Jackson, Vitters, and the other young Cubs with similarly unfulfilled hopes?

I suppose we’ll see. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the youth movement, and I’m eager to see what Vitters and Jackson can do with consistent at-bats, and what they bring to the lineup alongside Castro, Rizzo, and Barney. If nothing else, it takes my mind off how bad our pitching is.

Series Prediction: A bounce-back 2-1, and lots of Anchorman quotes.

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