After a tough loss yesterday in which the Cubs squandered a great performance by Travis Wood, the Cubs try to rebound today against the Reds, a team they recently lost 2 of 3 hard fought games to in late April. All 3 games were decided by one run.
Starlin Castro finds himself back in the #2 spot, where Dale Sveum has maintained he belongs. I like the idea of him batting 5th ideally, but as noted by many, you like to hit your best hitter in that 2nd spot. Castro has struggled to adjust to the grind-it-out approach the Cubs prefer, but there's still no question he's the team's best hitter.
Also in the lineup is Wellington Castillo. The Cubs catcher had a brain cramp yesterday and immediately held himself accountable -- which must have sat well with manager Dale Sveum because he's back in the lineup today.
In the News...
- Congrats to Rock Shoulders who won the Cubs minor league player of the month award. Shoulders hit .370/.457/.642 with 5 HRs for the month of April. Eric Jokisch went 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA (3.37 FIP) and an excellent walk rate of 1.84/9 IP. He struck out 6.64 batters 9 innings.
- Baseball card fans, today the Cubs will start distributing cards from an exclusive 82 card Topps set. Other dates are July 5th, August 2nd, and August 30th.
Roster Moves coming?
- The Cubs are fast approaching some roster decisions. The Cubs must decide what to do with the red-hot Ryan Sweeney before June 1st, when he can opt for free agency. Sweeney really doesn't fit right now simply because he's a LH hitter and two of the Cubs best hitters this year, David DeJesus and Nate Scheirholtz, are also LH hitting OF'ers. On the pitching side, Matt Garza feels great and is ready for his 2nd rehab start. The Cubs two bottom of the rotation starters -- Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva (who pitches today) have been pitching well and neither deserve to be sent to the bullpen. Coincidentally, yesterday we learned that the Cubs have been scouting the Royals farm system and we've had some unconfirmed reports that Royals scouts were seen at Matt Garza's rehab start in Tennessee. Could there be a connection?
- Speaking of Matt Garza. He pitches for Iowa on Monday.
- Oh, and I haven't even mentioned that the Cubs have to decide what to do with Ian Stewart, who is hitting .091/.255/.114 in Iowa right now.
- DeJesus CF
- Castro SS
- Rizzo 1B
- Soriano LF
- Schierholtz RF
- Castillo C
- Valbuena 3B
- Barney 2B
- Villanueva P
What to Watch For:
- John: Carlos Villanueva. The Cubs depth in their rotation is starting to pay off and could give them the flexibility to make some moves and improve the team down the road. I'd like to see another strong start from Villanueva and get the jump on the Reds this series.
- Felzz: The offense has to come from somewhere. And call me crazy.... but the Cleanup hitter is a good place to look. At least it should be. Alfonso Soriano hasn't been awful, but, it's time to be great. It's warming up. the Competition is getting better. So should he.
- Tom: Beef. Want to see what kind of game he has and if he can bounce back from yesterday's mental error. Lucky he wasn't bench.
Filed under: Preview and Game Thread