What better to cure your hurt feelings after a 3-1 series loss against one of the best teams in the NL? A series against one of the best in the AL, of course. The Rangers come to town. Let’s take a look at the pitching matchups for the series with notes from MLB.com
Wood pitched well enough to win on Tuesday against the Brewers but was fortunate to get a no-decision after some shoddy Cubs defense. He still hasn’t won a game since July 17, 2012. Holland lost his last start against the Rays on Wednesday despite allowing two runs in eight innings. He is 1-5 with a 5.96 ERA in nine career Interleague starts. This will be his first start in Wrigley Field.
Joe’s Prediction - I’ve seen Holland pitch one time, on opening night against the Astros. Before that, I don’t know that I had even heard his name. I don’t play fantasy baseball and it’s rare that I watch a game that doesn’t involve the Cubs. He’s a strikeout guy that can look very dominant. On the other hand, he has had a problem with giving up the longball so it’s imperative to take advantage there. Wood has looked so good this year, so it’s hard to pick against him, but I have a feeling we see a masterpiece by Holland and the Cubs lose this one.
Villanueva needs some help from his bullpen. He has given up one run over 14 innings in his two starts, yet doesn’t have a win. Both outings, the bullpen blew a lead. In his last outing, he held the Giants to three hits over 7 1/3 innings. Grimm made his first start of the season on Thursday and allowed two runs in four innings. He was called up from Triple-A Round Rock after Matt Harrison went on the disabled list with a strained back. This will be his fourth Major League start.
Joe’s Prediction – I’m going on record now and predicting that not only with Villanueva’s success this year continue in this start, but I’m gonna predict that he will be the most successful starter in the Cubs rotation this year and it’s all because of his funky facial hair. It’s the Samson effect. If he shaves it, all bets are off. If you’ve not seen it, tune in and be in awe. Cubs win this one in a laugher.
The Rangers have won all three of Ogando’s starts. He has held opponents to a .194 average. Opponents are hitting .125 against him with runners in scoring position. He has never faced the Cubs, but is 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA career against NL teams. Samardzija is looking for his first win since Opening Day. He ranks among the NL leaders in strikeouts with 27. He wasn’t sharp in his last start against the Giants, who collected seven hits over six innings. He has never faced Texas.
Joe’s Prediction – Another name I have never heard of, in Ogando. Perhaps I need to watch more Rangers baseball because apparently they have some decent guys on their staff. Based on the MLB note above, this appears to be a tough nut to crack, but I’m going Cubs homer and predicting a series win capped off by a deliteful outing from the Shark. Good pitching all around from the Cubs this series and a pair of days singing Go Cubs Go.