The Cincinnati Reds (4-2) begin a three team, ten day road trip starting on ChicagoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s North Side The Cubs (3-2) are coming back to Wrigley after winning their last two games in Colorado.
The Cubs made a lot of changes in the offseason and are considered by many to have a real shot at the NL Central after five straight 5th place finishes. The Reds haven’t lost a season series to the Cubs in those past 5 years, winning 11 of 19 last year and 60 of 88 (.682 winning percentage) from 2010-2014. Read Jeremy Conley’s great season preview series on the Cubs: Projecting the New Look Cubs, Five Newest Cubbies of All, and Theo Under Pressure.
From the offseason roster changes to the rave reviews of the new electronic board in left field, things are changing in Chicago. Just make sure that if you are going to the game tonight, that you go to the bathroom before you begin your trip inside the stadium.
The following stats are all 2014 actuals except for the 2015 FIP projection (ZiPS).
|PITCHER||2015 FIP||2014 FIP||HR/9||BB%||K%|
Chicago signed Lester in the offseason to a six year, $155 million contract. Lester hasn’t missed a start in seven seasons with the Boston Red Sox. Last year, he had a 2.80 FIP, 155 ERA+, and a 1.102 WHIP. In the six years prior to that, he had a 3.57 FIP, 120 ERA+, and 1.274 WHIP. The Cubs won the biggest pitching free agent prize of the offseason, but it appears that they may have overpaid a for someone’s career year.
This is Jon LesterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first career start against the Reds. Only three current Reds have hit against Lester. The only regular to against Lester in the past is Marlon Byrd (2-for-14.) Brayan Pena is the only Reds player with any history of success against Lester, going 7-for-17 with a double.
Cubs add relievers: pic.twitter.com/VH032JPsHs
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) April 8, 2015
The Cubs brought back three late inning relievers from last year’s squad. Closer Hector Rondon, setup relievers Pedro Strop and Neil Ramirez last year posted a FIP of 2.26, 2.66, and 2.61, respectively. The lone lefthander in the bullpen is former Tiger Phil Coke, who has a career OPS against of .649 vs lefthanded batters and .820 against righties.
Today’s Reds lineup features a day of rest for Billy Hamilton and a start behind the plate for Brayan Pena a day after leaving a game with a shoulder injury. Mesoraco stayed behind in Cincinnati to get an MRI on his hip. Brandon Phillips is batting cleanup in Mesoraco’s absence.
- Kristopher NegronÃ‚Â (R) CF
- Joey VottoÃ‚Â (L) 1B
- Todd FrazierÃ‚Â (R) 3B
- Brandon PhillipsÃ‚Â (R) 2B
- Marlon ByrdÃ‚Â (R) LF
- Jay BruceÃ‚Â (L) RF
- Brayan PenaÃ‚Â (S) C
- Zack CozartÃ‚Â (R) SS
- Mike LeakeÃ‚Â (R) P
The batting lineup for the Chicago Cubs features the pitcher batting 8th:
- Dexter FowlerÃ‚Â (S) CF
- Anthony RizzoÃ‚Â (L) 1B
- Jorge SolerÃ‚Â (R) RF
- Chris CoghlanÃ‚Â (L) LF
- Starlin CastroÃ‚Â (R) SS
- Mike OltÃ‚Â (R) 3B
- David RossÃ‚Â (R) C
- Jon LesterÃ‚Â (L) P
- Arismendy AlcantaraÃ‚Â (S) 2B
HOMER BAILEY ON THE MOUND
Homer Bailey threw 91 pitches, 56 strikes in a 5.2 inning start yesterday for the Louisville Bats. He is on track to return this weekend for the Cardinals series. The Reds have already decided that he will replace Rasiel Iglesias in the rotation as Iglesias was sent down today for:
AN EXTRA ARM
Josh Smith is getting called up as an extra arm for the bullpen this week. If he appears in the series, it will be his major league debut. Doug Gray has all the details of what you can expect from the newest Redleg.
In addition to Smith for Iglesias, the Reds recalled catcher Kyle Skipworth from AAA and optioned Chris Dominguez to AAA. Skipworth is up as the temporary #2 catcher until the Reds can diagnose what is wrong with Devin Mesoraco (MRI today on his hip.)
HELP WITH HOTELS
With hotels in Chicago starting from $99, Hipmunk.com will get Reds fans to the game with just a few clicks of the mouse. Fans outside the area can use Hipmunk to browse for flights to and from Chicago to support the Reds on the road.
It feels odd to be playing weekday games against the Cubs and have none of them be afternoon games and none of them be on WGN. There are more weekday afternoon games scheduled between the Reds and Cubs in Cincinnati than there are in Chicago.
Let’s hope that whatever changes the Cubs have made in recent months, that the saying of the past 5 years continues to hold true this season: the Cubs are good for what ails you!