Cubs vs. Reds Preview, Tuesday 4/23, 6:10 CT: A 2012 Comparison

Andy Lyons

They'll try it again tonight. What bizarre trouble can this year's Cubs get into this evening?

If you've been reading this site for a while, you know I tend to be an optimist when it comes to the Chicago Cubs. (Reality check: that hasn't been easy the last couple of years.)

Still, as bad as the 5-13 start is, there is reason to be somewhat hopeful. This year's team is now actually one game worse than the 2012 squad after 18 games, yet I feel much better about how this year's team has played (in spite of the mental and physical errors). Here's a comparison:

2O12 Cubs through 18 games 
One-run games: 6 (3-3) 
Two-run games: 2 (O-2) 
Three-run games: 3 (O-3) 
Four-run games: 2 (1-1) 
Five-or-more-run games: 5 (2-3)
2O13 Cubs through 18 games
 One-run games: 7 (2-5) 
Two-run games: 3 (1-2) 
Three-run games: 5 (1-4) 
Four-run games: 3 (1-2) 
Five-or-more-run games: O

There are two things to note in those numbers: first, the larger number of games decided by three runs or less (equivalent to a save situation), 11 last year, 15 this year; and second, the number of blowouts, five last year and none this year. The Cubs have played their opponents very, very close in almost every game. As you know, mental and physical errors have led to 14 unearned runs, likely directly causing at least two and possibly three of the defeats. The Cubs' Pythagorean record, if you put any stock in that this early, is 7-11. Two games better after just 18 games seems significant to me.

I wrote this the other day and it still feels right: This team has talent, but it plays on the edge far too often. One key mistake -- error, mental lapse, bad pitch -- has thrown a game into turmoil and defeat too many times. If this club can fix that issue, they can win some baseball games yet this year.

Tonight would be a good time to start.

Cubs lineup:

Sappelt CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Castillo C, Hairston RF, Ransom 3B, Barney 2B, Villanueva P

Reds lineup:

Choo CF, Cozart, SS, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Frazier 3B, Heisey LF, Miller C, Cingrani P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Carlos Villanueva

Carlos Villanueva


Cubs

vs. Tony Cingrani

Tony Cingrani


Reds

vs. Cin

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Carlos Villanueva 1-0 3 3 0 0 0 0 21.0 13 3 3 3 4 15 1.29 .81


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Tony Cingrani 1-0 1 1 0 0 0 0 5.0 5 1 1 1 3 8 1.80 1.60

Carlos Villanueva is, as you know, off to a fine start. Some of his peripherals (BABIP, in particular) hint that he's probably not this good. But you never know; maybe he can step up to a higher level now that he's more or less assured of a roster spot. His most recent start against the Reds was June 19, 2011 in Cincinnati, a start that looks a lot like the ones he's had this year: seven innings, seven hits, two runs allowed, no walks. Keep that up and maybe the Cubs have a shot at this game.

Tony Cingrani, a Chicago-area native (Lincoln-Way Central H.S. in New Lenox) is making his second major-league start (he also had three relief appearances last year). He has never faced the Cubs or anyone on the current roster. Haven't we seen enough of this already this year?

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 Reds site Red Reporter. The usual caution is advised.

Here's the scoop on game threads for 2013. You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.

You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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