Probable Pitchers

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Monday at 7:05 pm CT – Chris Volstad vs. Dave Keuchel

With Jeff Samardzija shutdown for the season, Volstad and others need to pick up the slack. Volstad served up five runs on nine hits over five innings in his last outing vs. the Nationals, but does have two wins in his last three starts. Keuchel returns to the Astros from a brief stint with Triple-A Oklahoma City, marking the start of a six-man rotation for Houston. He’s searching for his second win of the season and first win since his second start back on June 23.

Tuesday at 7:05 pm CT – Justin Germano vs. Jordan Lyles

The Nationals roughed up Germano in his last outing, scoring seven runs over four innings. He has lost four straight starts, and teams are batting .296 against him. He did beat the Astros on Aug. 15. Lyles failed to last past the sixth for the fourth consecutive start Tuesday, leaving after just 4 2/3 innings with his pitch count at 92. He surrendered five runs (four earned) on seven hits and will be searching for his second win in eight starts.

Wednesday at 7:05 pm CT – Travis Wood vs. Fernando Abad

Wood is coming off a solid outing against the Pirates. In his last two starts, he’s given up two earned runs over 11 2/3 innings for a 1.54 ERA. He’s 1-1 vs. the Astros this season, giving up two earned runs in 13 1/3 innings. Abad will make just his fourth start of the season Wednesday, searching for his first win as a starter. He hasn’t pitched more than 4 1/3 innings in any of his three starts and has given up five or more runs in each of his past two starts.

Our Take

Between the Bears introducing Andrew Luck to the NFL, the Oklahoma State Cowboys getting pantsed in the desert, and everything else going on in the sports world these days, it seems like there’s a bunch of story lines yanking my attention away from the Cubs. To my shame and frustration, I wasn’t able to see any of their three-game sweep of the Pirates. And I hate that.

Because if this patchwork (and newly Samardzija-less) is going to feast on the other NL bottom-feeders to close out the season, I want to see it. There’s always one crummy team that closes the season on a minor upswing as they win the slapfights against the other crummy teams–if that can be the Cubs this year, I’ll be thrilled.

What about you–do you care at this point who they manage to beat? Obviously wins against the Cardinals are always the best, but can you get as excited for some of these mop-up wins as you might if the Cubs were still in the playoff hunt?

Probably not, since this team has been going nowhere for so long. But a bump in the win column to close out the season ought to make this last month of baseball a little easier to swallow. We’ve still got plenty of winnable games on the schedule. Here’s hoping the Cubs can make the most of them.

Series Prediction: The Cubs keep their winning streak alive with another sweep. (I can’t base that on any real info, I just want to see it happen.)

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