Cubs vs. Braves Preview, Sunday 4/7, 12:35 CT: Marmol Out As Closer

Scott Cunningham

The Cubs can still split their road trip, if Jeff Samardzija can pitch as well as he did Opening Day. And the Cubs have a new closer (not a moment too soon).

ICYMI, a couple of hours ago it was announced that Carlos Marmol would no longer be the Cubs' closer:

So far, Marmol has cost the Cubs just one game (he was taken out Opening Day and the Cubs won anyway, and he managed to save Thursday's game despite pitching poorly). Let's hope Dale Sveum puts Marmol where he belongs, for now -- in mop-up duty, until and unless he can figure out what he's doing wrong. Meanwhile, Kyuji Fujikawa was a successful closer in Japan; we can only hope that his poor outing Saturday night was the exception, rather than the rule.

Here's some good news:

And here's a name from the Cubs past you might see today:

Len & JD noted that Freeman appeared to tweak his side on one play during Saturday night's game. He stayed in the game, but now has to sit for at least 15 days. Oblique injuries are tough to come back from, too -- just ask Steve Clevenger, who had his 2012 season ruined by one.

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Schierholtz RF, Navarro C, Valbuena 3B, Gonzalez 2B, Samardzija P

Braves lineup:

B.J. Upton CF, Heyward RF, Justin Upton LF, Gattis C, Uggla 2B, Francisco 3B, Johnson 1B, Pena SS, Hudson P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija


Cubs

vs. Tim Hudson

Tim Hudson


Braves

vs. StL

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Jeff Samardzija 1-0 1 1 0 0 0 0 8.0 2 0 0 0 1 9 0.00 .38


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Tim Hudson 0-0 1 1 0 0 0 0 4.1 6 3 3 1 3 3 6.23 2.08

Jeff Samardzija had one of the best starts of his career on Opening Day in Pittsburgh. The Braves, obviously, are a much better team. But, Shark pitched against them twice last year, once in Atlanta, once in Chicago, and threw a total of 14 innings, giving up nine hits and just two earned runs, striking out 18. Of course, that's without the Upton brothers. Samardzija has never faced B.J. Upton; Justin Upton is 2-for-6 against him. Small sample size, etc. If Shark can hold them down, today could be a win.

Tim Hudson also started the Opening Day game for his team, and didn't fare well, giving up six hits and three earned runs in 4⅓ innings, along with three walks. Current Cubs, though, are hitting just .189 (17-for-90) against him, though with five home runs, three of them by Alfonso Soriano. Maybe they can take advantage of him when he's down.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

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 Braves site Talking Chop.

Here's how we're going to do game threads this year, as it seems to have worked well during spring training. 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 (like today), that will usually be 90 minutes.

As has been the case during spring training, 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 game time, then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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