|CHICAGO CUBS ( SAMARDZIJA )|
PITTSBURGH ( BURNETT )
|905||CHICAGO CUBS||+125||Ov 7.5,+110||+110||Ov 7,-105|
|906||PITTSBURGH||-135||Un 7.5,-130||-120||Un 7,-115|
|vs Right-handed Starters||43-75||-21.1||56-58||3.8||0.239||0.299||4.7||0.257||0.325|
|Past 7 Games||2-5||-2.6||4-3||3.1||0.207||0.291||5.0||0.272||0.337|
|vs Right-handed Starters||57-64||-4.4||51-61||4.0||0.244||0.299||4.2||0.253||0.316|
|Past 7 Games||3-4||-1||1-6||2.4||0.195||0.253||2.6||0.233||0.285|
|4/1/2013||SAMARDZIJA(R)||@ PITTSBURGH||BURNETT(R)|| |
|4/3/2013|| ||@ PITTSBURGH|| || |
|4/4/2013|| ||@ PITTSBURGH|| || |
|4/5/2013|| ||@ ATLANTA|| || |
|4/6/2013|| ||@ ATLANTA|| || |
|4/7/2013|| ||@ ATLANTA|| || |
|4/8/2013|| ||MILWAUKEE|| || |
|4/1/2013||BURNETT(R)||CHICAGO CUBS||SAMARDZIJA(R)|| |
|4/3/2013|| ||CHICAGO CUBS|| || |
|4/4/2013|| ||CHICAGO CUBS|| || |
|4/5/2013|| ||@ LA DODGERS|| || |
|4/6/2013|| ||@ LA DODGERS|| || |
|4/7/2013|| ||@ LA DODGERS|| || |
|4/8/2013|| ||@ ARIZONA|| || |
|CHICAGO CUBS: HITTING: 'Under New Management' is the motto in Wrigleyville, where Epstein, Hoyer, Sveum and Co. aim to turn SS STARLIN CASTRO and a bunch of straw into gold. OF DAVID DeJESUS was an underrated first pick-up. But OFs ALFONSO SORIANO and MARLON BYRD are overpaid and over the hill. C GEOVANY SOTO has lost his mojo. New 3B IAN STEWART has a lousy career OPS of .737 away from Coors Field. 1B BRYAN LaHAIR is tagged as part of a 'youth movement,' but he's almost 30. The other youths'2B DARWIN BARNEY, IF JEFF BAKER, and IF BLAKE DEWITT 'are interchangeable guys with low ceilings. Fourth OF TONY CAMPANA is fast but one-dimensional. And minor-league reinforcements are scarce. OF BRETT JACKSON is solid, but blocked in the lineup. And former uber-prospect 3B JOSH VITTERS has done nothing to justify his third-overall draft status. This rebuilding process will take time. Meanwhile, somewhere in the Chicago suburbs, Jim Hendry quietly sobs into a pile of Cubs-themed stuffed animals. |
STARTING PITCHING: RYAN DEMPSTER should bounce back from an unlucky year in which there was nearly a full-run difference between his ERA and his FIP. He's no ace in good times, but he's an underrated and dependable source of innings and strikeouts. MATT GARZA didn't disappoint in his debut season on the North Side, but he was an odd acquisition to begin with: the Cubs dealt top prospects from a thin system when all signs pointed to a belly-flop of a season. He's already trade bait again. JEFF SAMARDZIJA is moving to the rotation after a strong year in the bullpen (2.97 ERA, 87 K in 88 IP), but he needs to cut down on his walks (5.1 per 9 IP). What killed TRAVIS WOOD in 2011 was uncharacteristic wildness. His walk total spiked by over 50 percent from 2010. He's better than this, though it's hard to say how much. It could be that a 40-inning jump from 2010 to 2011 aided his freefall. Subpar newcomers PAUL MAHOLM and CHRIS VOLSTAD will also compete for rotation spots. The lefty Maholm is coming off his best season in Pittsburgh (3.66 ERA, 1.29 WHIP), but was awful after the All-Star break (0-5, 5.75 ERA, .355 Opp. BA). The 6-foot-8 Volstad was 5-13 with a 4.89 ERA for the Marlins last year, but still has time to figure things out at age 25.
RELIEF PITCHING: Because of his contract and the head-scratching faith in the 'closer mentality' that still pervades even the most enlightened front offices, CARLOS MARMOL will enter the 2012 campaign with a near-ironclad grip on ninth-inning duties for the Cubs. Trading away Sean Marshall, arguably Chicago's best reliever last season, is yet another vote of confidence for Marmol. His lack of command leads to more hittable pitches (along with tons of walks), though his ceiling for strikeouts and saves is sky-high. KERRY WOOD will be the main set-up man again after a triumphant return to Chicago last season (3.35 ERA, 57 K in 51 IP).
|PITTSBURGH: HITTING: The Pirates' two-month casual flirtation with competitiveness was cute while it lasted, before this team fizzled to a 72-win season. This team is still years away. But don't blame OF ANDREW McCUTCHEN, who might be the best all-around player in the division. Of all the ballyhooed outfielders from the 2005 draft, he's the one GMs would most want to build around. OF JOSE TABATA, not so much. He's serviceable and has plus speed, but the six-year extension the Pirates gave him was absurd. 2B NEIL WALKER has settled into a respectable place short of stardom. 3B PEDRO ALVAREZ has a lot of uphill climbing to do if he wants to wake up old expectations. He'll compete with 3B CASEY MCGEHEE for a starting role, but it's most likely that Alvarez moves to first base to back up 1B GARRETT JONES. OFs NATE McLOUTH and ALEX PRESLEY are underwhelming choices for the starting left-field spot. SS CLINT BARMES and C ROD BARAJAS would like to thank the Pirates for wildly overpaying them. |
STARTING PITCHING: JEFF KARSTENS looked pretty decent for much of last year. But that's what happens when you get to log 14 percent of your innings against the lowly Astros. Better teams exposed him for the replacement-level guy he is. Contrary to what a lot of bored, lazy sportswriters wanted you to believe last year, CHARLIE MORTON doesn't pitch like Roy Halladay. At all. JAMES McDONALD could still be special if he cut down his walk rate. ERIK BEDARD was a respectable signing. Even if his shoulder acts up, he cost only $4.5 million for a year. If he's healthy, he's still well above-average. KEVIN CORREIA may only be slightly more effective at striking out hitters than a batting tee, but the Pirates are grateful for the innings he eats. BRAD LINCOLN is the designated fill-in if any of the other starters get hurt (cough, Bedard). In the meantime, he's a swing man.
RELIEF PITCHING: Closer JOEL HANRAHAN has been outstanding since first donning a Pirates uniform in 2009, converting 40-of-44 saves with a 1.83 ERA last season. It makes sense for the rebuilding Pirates to move him, but they'll probably keep the hand they were dealt. There isn't another qualified ninth-inning pitcher in this bullpen though. EVAN MEEK was bit by the shoulder bug. His early season was an unqualified disaster, but he turned it around and regained his form once he came back in September. He should be fully healthy again, and a quiet source of a few saves. CHRIS RESOP is another primary set-up man, but he posted a 4.39 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 2011. DANIEL McCUTCHEN won't be so lucky with his ERA this year if he doesn't lower his walk rate. He's just not a guy to put much faith in.
|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PA SPORTSTICKER NL PREVIEW (CHICAGO CUBS-PITTSBURGH) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ |
*Cubs-Pirates Preview* ======================
Chicago (0-0) at Pittsburgh (0-0), 1:35 p.m. EDT
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Jeff Samardzija can only hope his performance Monday matches his last opening game in Pittsburgh.
Samardzija will start for the Chicago Cubs and A.J. Burnett for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday as two teams with long streaks of futility meet on opening day. The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 and the Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992.
After losing 101 games last season, the Cubs will look for Samardzija to get them off to a better start in the second year of the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer administration.
This will be the first opening-day start for Samardzija, who went 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA in 28 games last year in his first full season as a starting pitcher.
As a junior wide receiver at Notre Dame in 2005, Samardzija caught three passes for 34 yards and one touchdown to help the Fighting Irish beat Pitt 42-21 in Charlie Weis' first game as coach. Samardzija went on to become a consensus All-America that year.
"That was a big moment for me, scoring my first college touchdown, but football seems so long ago now," Samardzija said. "I'm a baseball player."
Though he likely would have been a high-round pick in the NFL draft, Samardzija opted to play professional baseball and has established himself with the Cubs in the past two seasons. He went 8-4 with a 2.97 ERA in 75 relief appearances in 2011 before making the conversion to the rotation.
"He was one of the bright spots for us last year," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He really did a great of moving into the rotation and being very consistent. He is one of the players we feel we can build around."
Burnett will be making his first opening-day start of his 15-year career. He was the undisputed ace during his first season with the Pirates last year, going 16-10 with a 3.51 ERA in 31 starts after being acquired from the New York Yankees in a trade on the eve of spring training.
Burnett helped the Pirates stay in contention for a playoff spot into early September before they faded.
"I don't know exactly what my emotions will be like because I've never pitched on opening day before, but I'm glad that it's happening in Pittsburgh," Burnett said. "I really love It here. Last year was the most fun I had in a long time. It's a great group of guys to play with and the fans have treated me great."
Burnett is considering retirement at the end of this season when the $82.5 million, five-year contract he signed with the Yankees expires. Burnett is 36 and his children are 12 and 9, so a more normal lifestyle is appealing.
However, Burnett has developed such an affinity for Pittsburgh that he would consider playing in 2014 if the Pirates are interested in having him back.
What Burnett would like to do is help the Pirates over the .500 mark. Their 20 consecutive losing seasons is the longest streak in major North American professional sports history.
Pittsburgh was 63-47 before Aug. 9 and finished 79-83.
"We flirted with .500 last year," Burnett said. "It's time for us to start winning. We've got a good enough team to do it. We need to get off to a good start, set a good tone early in the season, and go from there."
|Last Updated: 8/31/2014 7:36:13 AM EST|