Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Preview, Friday 8/3, 9:10 CT

Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano hits a two-RBI triple against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

The Cubs begin their second western swing of the season -- meaning late-night games in the Chicago area for three of the six dates -- with a revamped roster that's minus four players who opened the year with the team.

This is, of course, necessary to begin the rebuild of this team. What I think should be happening at this point is to bring up guys like Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson and see what they can do. Why wait until September? Yes, I realize Jackson is annihilating strikeout records at Iowa and Vitters, while improved, still might not be a major-league third baseman. But why not find out when the rest of the year's results don't mean anything?

Better that than the idea of picking up someone like Derek Lowe, who is almost certainly done. Why not try Chris Rusin or Brooks Raley? The Cubs already have a retread at Iowa in Rodrigo Lopez if they want to go that route.

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, LaHair RF, Clevenger C, Barney 2B, Valbuena 3B, Samardzija P

Dodgers lineup:

Victorino LF, Ellis 2B, Kemp CF, Ethier RF, Ramirez SS, Loney 1B, Cruz 3B, Ellis C, Billingsley P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jeff Samardzija
Jeff Samardzija
Cubs
vs. Chad Billingsley
Chad Billingsley
Dodgers
7-8 W-L 6-9
4.19 ERA 3.89
121 SO 106
47 BB 35
12 HR 9
vs. LA -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Jeff Samardzija 7-8 22 20 0 0 0 0 120.1 111 58 56 12 47 121 4.19 1.31


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Chad Billingsley 6-9 20 20 0 0 0 0 118.0 124 58 51 9 35 106 3.89 1.35

Jeff Samardzija has never faced the Dodgers as a starter; he has one career relief appearance against them, April 23, 2011 at Wrigley Field. That tells us almost nothing about what he can do tonight; he's had stretches of excellent performance dotted with really bad outings this year. He had a good July, posting a 1.91 ERA in five starts. Let's hope that continues.

Chad Billingsley had a good outing against the Cubs May 4 at Wrigley Field, although the Cubs won that game. Billingsley, too, is coming off a good July -- 2.84 ERA in four starts. Current Cubs are 19-for-80 (.238) against him with one home run (David DeJesus).

Today's game is on WGN.

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 Dodgers site True Blue LA.

Today's first pitch thread will post at 9:10 p.m. CDT and the overflows at 10:10, 11:10 and 11:55 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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