The 11-5 Cardinals are in town to face the 4-12 Cubs begining on Monday. Here’s your series preview with a focus on Monday’s game.
Monday’s Pitching Matchup
Matt Garza (1-1, 3.66 ERA) takes the hill against Cardinals’ lefty Jaime Garcia (2-0, 3.06 ERA). Garza struggled in his last start in Miami against the Marlins, giving up six earned runs in five innings. Garza allowed two run homers to Donnie Murphy and Hanley Ramirez, which derailed his start and forced him to pick up his first loss of the season. Garcia earned the win against Cincinnati, going seven innings with only one earned run.
Garcia, a 25-year-old from Mexico, features a fastball, cutter, curve and a changeup. He’s been throwing his fastball a bit less so far this year, and using his cut fastball more, which accounts for 26.1 precent of his pitches in 2012. Garcia tops out in the low 90's and will occasionally drop a slow curveball on the hitter.
This should be a pretty fun pitching matchup if Garza can limit the walks and keep the ball in the ballpark. The Cardinals are 7-3 on the road this year, so we’ll see if Garza can slow them down and start the series off well for the Cubs.
Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal is off to a scorching start, hitting .369/.423/.523 with three stolen bases. The veteran Furcal hits leadoff for the Red-Birds and went three-for-four yesterday against Pittsburgh. Another new addition and veteran, Carlos Beltran has hit five home runs, with a .298 average and OBP of .403. The 2011 World Series MVP David Freese has picked up right where he left off, with 15 RBI and an average of .333.
On the Cubs side, backup catcher Steve Clevenger is hitting a ridiculous .556 in 19 plate appearances. Shortstop Starlin Castro is hitting .365, and saw his slugging percentage rise to .492 after a triple yesterday against Cincinnati. First baseman Bryan LaHair has been the Cubs primary source of power thus far, with and isolated power (ISO) of .278 and two homeruns, which leads the team. LaHair has been a pleasant offensive option for the Cubs, posting a batting average of balls in play (BABIP) of .524.
Matt Holliday is off to a slow start, hitting only .197 with a BABIP of .208, which suggests that he’s been robbed a few times, and hasn’t gotten much luck. Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, who the Cubs will face on Tuesday, is 0-3 with only 13.2 innings pitched in three starts. Oh yeah, and his ERA is 9.88 with a fielding independent pitching of 6.52. Notice that his xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) is lower, at 3.13 - suggesting that Wainwright has given up some homeruns (five given up in 2012).
Geovanny Soto has been a disaster behind the plate and at the plate in 2012. Soto already has three errors in 12 games, and made a couple of throwing mistakes in yesterday’s game, one of which was influenced by a lack of hustle by Rodrigo Lopez. Soto has only thrown out three of seventeen baserunners, a dismal 17 percent. Soto also has driven in less runners than his backup, Steve Clevenger, Soto has one RBI and Clevenger has two. Alfonso Soriano is still homerless, and has looked pretty desperate on breaking balls in obvious counts, as usual. Soriano is hitting .212 and not drawing many walks, but look for him to start to heat up, as we get closer to May.
Cardinals outfielder John Jay returned to St. Louis on Sunday to have his right shoulder looked at. Jay is listed as day-to-day and will likely miss the series. Leftfielder Allen Craig is on the 15-day DL with a knee injury. Craig started his minor league rehab assignment on Saturday and hit a homer in his first at-bat.
Kerry Wood remains on the 15-day DL, with a shoulder injury and is expected to throw off a mound soon. Ryan Dempster, who missed his start on Sunday, is on the 15-day DL with a quad injury. Expect him to miss two starts.
Pitching Matchups and Broadcast Info
Monday: 7:05 p.m. on CSN. Jaime Garcia (2-0, 3.06 ERA) vs. Matt Garza (1-1, 3.66 ERA)
Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. on CSN. Adam Wainwright (0-3, 9.88 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (2-1, 5.71 ERA)
Wednesday: 1:20 p.m. on WGN. Lance Lynn (3-0, 1.42 ERA) vs. Chris Volstad (0-2, 6.19 ERA)
Catch all games live on WGN Radio 720.