"Win Series": Cubs vs. Reds, Wednesday 4/22, 7:05 CT

So far in 2009, the Cubs have played four series prior to the current one. They have won three of them and split the other. Do this all year and you're looking at a 95-win season; win today and you've already won the current set with the Reds.

Lou has preached this for a couple of years and I think it's gotten through and is established in the mindset of the players. We can argue about Lou's lineups or bullpen use, and we do, legitimately so, but there is no doubt that his presence has changed the culture in the clubhouse. And that's exactly what this franchise needed.

Bruce Miles says ignore all the Samardzija speculation:

The speculation has centered on right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who is in Iowa's starting rotation. Samardzija pitched well his last time out, but it does not appear the Cubs will bring him up right away.

I'd agree with that. The bullpen has had its stumbles, but to me it seems that Jason Waddell would be the one to replace the stumbling Neal Cotts, if there is any replacement to come soon.

Both of the NL Central managers who have been in town during this homestand say the Cubs should be division favorites:

"[The Cubs] have a really good club and they're the team to beat," [Tony] La Russa said over the weekend when his Cardinals played at Wrigley, "but every series you play within the division will be competitive and difficult."

Agreed. The Reds have their pitching issues, but they have a potent middle of the order. For more on the Reds from their fans, see our SB Nation Reds site, Red Reporter.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
Ted Lilly
Cubs
vs. Johnny Cueto
Johnny Cueto
Reds
2-0 W-L 0-1
3.86 ERA 4.22
11 SO 12
2 BB 7
4 HR 1
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs

Johnny Cueto was 1-3 vs. the Cubs last year, with a 4.68 ERA, although he struck out 23 Cubs in 25 innings. That's the most innings and K's than he had against any team, so the Cubs ought to be familiar with him. Ryan Theriot is 7-for-14 vs. Cueto and Geovany Soto 5-for-11 with a homer. Aramis Ramirez has also homered off Cueto and Alfonso Soriano has two HR; Milton Bradley, who may return to the starting lineup tonight, has never faced him.

Lots of Reds have homered off Ted Lilly but Joey Votto has a pair of them and 8 RBI in 13 career AB off Ted. Keep Votto down and Lilly has an excellent shot at winning tonight's game. Too bad Votto isn't a catcher; Ted would know exactly what to do with him in that case. Ted allowed four homers to the Astros in his first start, then nearly threw a no-hitter vs. the Rockies. The chilly weather tonight should be more conducive to pitchers. We hope, for Ted's sake, anyway.

Today's game is a cable-only affair on CSN Chicago and FSN Ohio. For online links or other games see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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