Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds Preview, Saturday 8/18, 12:10 CT

Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs hits a single against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

There's a bit more this morning on the Cubs' apparent plan to sign Starlin Castro to a long-term contract. Quote from Castro in that link:

"I want to be on this team for a long time," Castro said before the Cubs dropped the series opener 7-3 to the Reds at Great American Ball Park. "I don’t pay attention to (contract talks) right now. My agent (Paul Kinzer) is talking with the team. I just think about playing baseball. I mean, I want to, but I don’t pay attention right now. Let my agent work and see how far he has (advanced in the talks) or how close he is. It is going to be good for me."

It will be good for him, and also for the team. It's nice to see Castro starting to hit again (.316 over his last 10 games) after slumping for the last month.

Quote from Theo Epstein in that link:

After word surfaced that Castro's agent has been involved in conversations with management about a long-term contract, the Cubs president told reporters Friday night that "the agent has come out and said it on the record. I'm not going to lie to you guys, now that it's out there … not that I would ordinarily lie to you."

Hee hee. Joke from Theo? Or the truth?

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus RF, Vitters 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Castro SS, Castillo C, Jackson CF, Barney 2B, Samardzija P

Reds lineup:

Cozart SS, Heisey CF, Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Frazier 3B, Paul LF, Cairo 1B, Hanigan C, Cueto P
Game 1 Starting Pitchers
Jeff Samardzija
Jeff Samardzija
Cubs
vs. Johnny Cueto
Johnny Cueto
Reds
8-10 W-L 15-6
4.06 ERA 2.45
141 SO 127
52 BB 37
14 HR 8
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Jeff Samardzija 8-10 25 23 0 0 0 0 139.2 127 65 63 14 52 141 4.06 1.28


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Johnny Cueto 15-6 24 24 2 0 0 0 161.2 151 48 44 8 37 127 2.45 1.16

In eight starts since July 1, Jeff Samardzija has posted a 2.41 ERA and 1.051 WHIP with 18 walks and 56 strikeouts in 52⅓ innings. That's very good, and better, just one of the eight starts ranks as "bad". The others are all good to excellent. If he can keep up this consistency, he can become, if not a No. 1 starter, at least a solid No. 2 type. He started against the Reds May 2 in Cincinnati, another very good outing that the Cubs actually won. Maybe we're not doomed today.

On the other hand, Johnny Cueto shut down the Cubs last Sunday at Wrigley Field, throwing eight shutout innings and allowing just three singles. He's been one of the best pitchers in the National League this year, and though few talk about him this way, has a shot at the Cy Young Award. Do you really think this Cubs team has even a tiny chance against him? Right, probably not, and especially considering this::

Cueto is 10-0 with a 1.55 ERA in day games.

Back to the doomed list.

Game 2 Starting Pitchers
Brooks Raley
Brooks Raley
Cubs
vs. Todd Redmond
Todd Redmond
Reds
0-2 W-L making
9.00 ERA his
6 SO major
4 BB league
3 HR debut
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Brooks Raley 0-2 2 2 0 0 0 0 10.0 13 10 10 3 4 6 9.00 1.70

Brooks Raley made progress in his second major-league start, also against the Reds, last Sunday at Wrigley Field, throwing six solid innings. He did allow a pair of home runs, to Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick. Still, if he can build on that start, the Cubs will have someone else to throw into the starting-pitcher mix for 2013. Raley is here today due to the new rule that allows a 26th man to be added to the roster (with no one removed) for doubleheaders. He'll head back to Iowa after the game, but likely will be recalled (with Michael Bowden sent back down) to return to the rotation later in the week.

Todd Redmond is making his MLB debut tonight. You know what usually happens when pitchers do that against the Cubs. Redmond is an eight-year minor-league veteran of the Pirates, Braves (thus the cap in the photo; he was acquired by Cincinnati in July in the Paul Janish deal) and Reds systems; an interesting note about him is that he has been on major-league 25-man rosters three times before this without ever appearing in a game. That note becomes moot after tonight with his start. One last thing: the start by Redmond is the first by a Reds pitcher other than their five-man rotation (Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake). They'll be the last MLB team this year to use a sixth different pitcher to start a game. (The Cubs have had 10 different pitchers start games this year.)

Both games today are being televised on CSN Chicago.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday for game 1

MLB.com Gameday for game 2

Baseball-reference.com game preview (should work for both games)

SB Nation game preview for game 1

SB Nation game preview for game 2

Please visit our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter. The usual caution is advised.

Here's how the threads will work today, since this is a split doubleheader. The first game will have the normal thread times: first pitch thread at 12:10 p.m. CDT, overflows at 1:10, 2:10 and 2:55. Then I'll write a recap that will serve as the game preview for the night game, which starts at 6:10 p.m. CDT. That game will have overflows at 7:10, 8:10 and 8:55 p.m. CDT; I'll recap the night game Sunday morning. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section. Also please note: due to some under-the-hood changes, the sidebar box with the game thread links is no longer available. It seems you've found them with no problems, but if you haven't been able to find the overflow threads, click the "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" link under "Sections" on the left sidebar. They're all in there.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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