The 11-14 Reds return to Cincinnati after a brutal end to their 5-5 road trip to host the Chicago Cubs (8-16) in a 3-game series. The Cubs, who are still looking to win their first series this season, just snapped a 4-game losing streak by beating the Brewers in Milwaukee yesterday.

The Reds just beat the Cubs two out of three in a series that we previewed just one week ago. Nick Kirby summarized the Cubs season thus far in his weekly Central Intelligence Power Rankings:

The Cubs entered Sunday ranked 25th in the MLB in runs scored (84), 26th in average (.230), 27th in OBP (.294), and 27th in SLG (.347). The Cubs offense has been flat out brutal thus far in 2014. The Cubs overall pitching hasn’t been all that much better, posting a 3.96 ERA (18th in the MLB), and a 1.34 WHIP (21st in the MLB).

All 3 games will air on Fox Sports Ohio in the Cincinnati area. The Chicago regional market will air Monday’s game on WCIU while both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s game will air on CSN.

The Cubs made several more changes to their shaky bullpen in the past week. Opening Day closer Jose Veras was put on the disabled list with a strained left oblique. Blake Parker was optioned to AAA Iowa. Outfielder Justin Ruggiano was also placed on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

All three players were replaced on the 25-man roster with bullpen arms from AAA Iowa: left-handed reliever Zac Rossup made his first appearance in 2014 while right-hander Neil Ramirez made his major league debut last Friday. Righty Brian Schlitter is returning for the second time with the Cubs this season.


The probable starting pitchers for this series are identical to the Easter weekend matchups that we previewed last weekend. There is significant chances of severe weather, especially for tonight’s game. Since the Reds don’t have a day off on Thursday, hopefully any rainout would be rescheduled for later in the season and not stacked into a doubleheader on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Updated 2014 stats are below.

MONDAY, 7:10pm

Jeff Samardzija 1.53 3.36 1.10 0.3 2.3 6.9
Alfredo Simon 1.30 4.31 0.94 0.7 2.9 5.5

Samardzjia has been the Cubs best starter by far. He allowed just two runs on 7 hits over 7.1 innings in last week’s outing against Arizona. He’s yet to allow more than two earned runs in any of his five starts this season.

Simon also hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his four starts. However, he exhibited control issues in his last outing with five walks compared to just four strikeouts in 6.2 innings against the Pirates.

TUESDAY, 7:10pm

Edwin Jackson 5.02 4.35 1.64 0.0 4.7 7.2
Tony Cingrani 2.86 3.98 1.24 0.6 4.8 9.5

Edwin Jackson is coming off his best start of the season (five hits, two walks and three runs over 7 innings), though the Cubs continue to lose when Jackson is on the mound. Of his last 15 starts, the Cubs are 2-13. Unfortunately, both of those wins were against the Reds.

Cingrani is looking for a rematch after his poor outing against the Cubs 10 days ago. He bounced back nicely to allow just one run over six innings against the Pirates last week.


Carlos Villanueva OR 10.42 4.14 2.21 1.4 1.0 6.6
Jake Arrieta (2013) 4.78 4.61 1.33 1.1 4.9 7.2
Homer Bailey 6.15 3.09 1.78 2.4 2.7 9.9

Carlos Villanueva is still listed as Wednesday’s scheduled starter, but he may not take this start. He’s allowed at least 5 runs in each of his last three starts, and Jake Arrieta has made what is believed to be his last rehab start (shoulder.) If the 28 year old, right-handed Arrieta takes the start, it would be the first time he’s faced Cincinnati. In 72 career starts, Arrieta has a 5.23 ERA, a 4.75 FIP, walks about 4 batters per nine innings while striking out 6.9 per 9ip.

Homer Bailey has only pitched one game this season without allowing a homerun, and it was his last start against Chicago. In his other four starts, he’s allowed at least one homerun and either four or five runs in each game.

While the Reds have struggled against the other contenders so far this season, they’ll need to continue to win these games against the teams that they “should beat” if they want to hang around in the division.