Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals Preview, Sunday 4/8, 1:20 CT

Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs right fielder Reed Johnson is hit by a pitch during the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field. Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

Sunday afternoon, the guy that some of us didn't want in the rotation -- and who the Cubs could have used in the bullpen over the season's first two games -- will try to salvage the final game of the series against the Nationals in his first start for the Cubs since 2010.

I hope Jeff Samardzija succeeds. Really, I do. I still think the Cubs would have been better served with him as a setup man and Randy Wells in the rotation, but maybe this will work.

On another topic, CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney writes about Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo and when we might see them in Chicago. I found this particularly illuminating:

Epstein said that major-league service time – and the financial advantage gained by delaying it – will "not really" be a consideration. It sounds like the Cubs won’t be reactionary if there are injuries or trades.

Here, instead, are the criteria Theo Epstein is using to determine whether and when to recall Jackson and Rizzo:

"With potential impact young players, we always try to make decisions based on what’s best for their development," Epstein said. "There’s a certain set of criteria for advancement that we have for each level of the minor-league system and that sort of checklist that goes into how those decisions are made.

"So I’d like to see players get a significant amount of time at Triple-A, usually a full calendar year, if possible, and certainly I’d like to see them check all the boxes (before) they’re advanced up here.

"As talented as Anthony and Brett are, there are still some issues left in their development, so we’d like to see those addressed before they get up here."

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus RF, DeWitt 2B, Castro SS, Soriano LF, Stewart 3B, LaHair 1B, Byrd CF, Clevenger C, Samardzija P

Nats lineup:

Desmond ss, Espinosa 2b, Zimmerman 3b, LaRoche 1b, Werth rf, Nady lf, Bernadina cf, Ramos c, Zimmermann p
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jeff Samardzija
Jeff
Samardzija

Cubs
vs. Jordan Zimmermann
Jordan Zimmermann
Nationals
8-4 W-L 8-11
2.97 ERA 3.18
87 SO 124
50 BB 31
5 HR 12
vs. Wash -- vs. Cubs

Stats are 2011 season final numbers

This will be Jeff Samardzija's first start since 2010; you probably don't want to go back and look at those. Last year he was pretty good in relief (though gave up too many walks). He had a good spring. Let's hope that carries over. Current Nats are 9-for-28 (.321) against him with one home run (Jayson Werth -- and that one was memorable, a three-run walkoff in the 13th inning in Philadephia on July 21, 2009).

Jordan Zimmermann faced the Cubs twice last year, and on August 11, 2011 at Wrigley Field, the Cubs defeated him with two home runs hit by... players who aren't on the team any more. So never mind that. Current Cubs are hitting .244 against Zimmermann (11-for-45) with one home run (Alfonso Soriano). Zimmermann throws strikes (just 31 walks in 161 innings last year) -- Cubs teams often do well against guys like that. (Or maybe I'm just hoping.)

Today's game is on WGN, MASN and WDCW (Ch. 50 in Washington). Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Nationals site Federal Baseball.

Today's first pitch thread will post at 1:20 p.m. CDT and the overflows at 2:20, 3:20 and 4:05 p.m. 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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