Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros Preview, Monday 8/15, 7:05 CT: A Chance For Wins

Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs makes a diving catch for an out against Dan Uggla of the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Cubs are not a very good team this year, although they have won 11 of their last 14 games. They are still far out of first place and not in playoff contention.

But this year's version of the Houston Astros... well now, this is a bad team.

Since June 1 the Astros are 17-49. That's a .257 winning percentage -- 41 wins over a full season if they kept up that pace. During that time they have lost five games in a row three times, have won consecutive games only twice, and are currently on a six-game losing streak. They have been outscored 333-227 since June 1; this includes being swept by the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Here's some historical perspective: over the last 15 years, Houston has won the fourth-fewest home games of any team through 120 games of a season -- just 19 wins in 59 home games. If the Astros played .500 ball the rest of the year -- which they won't -- they'd lose 103 games. More likely, they're headed for 110+ losses, which has been accomplished only twice in the last 40 years -- by the 2003 Tigers (119 losses) and by the 2004 Diamondbacks (111 losses).

The Cubs really should sweep this series.

Cubs lineup:

Castro SS, Barney 2B, Ramirez 3B, Peña 1B, Byrd CF, Johnson LF, Colvin RF, Soto C, Lopez P

Astros lineup:

Bourgeois CF, Altuve 2B, Martinez LF, Lee 1B, Downs 3B, Bogusevic RF, Barmes SS, Quintero C, Sosa P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Rodrigo Lopez
Rodrigo Lopez
vs. Henry Sosa
Henry Sosa
3-3 W-L 0-1
4.78 ERA 6.00
26 SO 4
13 BB 3
7 HR 1
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

2011 - Rodrigo Lopez 3-3 18 8 0 0 0 0 52.2 62 32 28 7 13 26 4.78 1.42

2011 - Henry Sosa 0-1 1 1 0 0 0 0 6.0 6 4 4 1 3 4 6.00 1.50

Rodrigo Lopez's first start as a Cub was against the Astros on May 30 at Wrigley Field. It wasn't good. However, the three Astros who had the most hits in that game -- Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn and Jeff Keppinger, who had three hits each -- are no longer on the team. Current Astros are hitting just .186 (8-for-43) against Rodrigo. And one more thing. With the Jason Marquis injury yesterday, the Diamondbacks could use a starter. Maybe they'd take Rodrigo and give the Cubs a better prospect than they gave up. It's a thought, anyway.

Speaking of Keppinger, he was traded to the Giants in late July, and among the players Houston received was Henry Sosa, who made his MLB debut (and only start so far) on August 10 against the Diamondbacks. He threw a credible six innings; he's spent six undistinguished years in the minor leagues. In short, who knows?

Today's game is on CSN Chicago and FSN Houston. Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Astros site Crawfish Boxes.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 7:05 p.m. CDT and the overflow threads will post at 8 pm, 9 pm and 9:45 pm CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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