Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Wednesday 5/22, 6:05 CT: Another Lefthander

Justin K. Aller

The Cubs will try to even up their series with the Pirates Wednesday evening at PNC Park against a LHP. That doesn't bode well, based on previous results this year.

The Cubs have had a very strange season, split-wise. In addition to having an overall record four games worse than their Pythagorean projection, they are 14-17 against righthanded starters and 4-9 against lefthanded starters. That includes Tuesday night's loss to Wandy Rodriguez.

But it gets weirder than that. Players hired specifically for their abilities to hit lefthanded pitching haven't, or didn't before they were shipped out. Dave Sappelt was 8-for-36 against LHP (.222/.243/.278) before being shipped to Iowa. Brent Lillibridge (remember? He was on this team), though not specifically a platoon player, was 0-for-9 vs. LHP. And Scott Hairston has been awful: 4-for-42 vs. LHP (.095/.133/.333), although three of the four hits were home runs. And Anthony Rizzo has an odd reverse split: .305/.369/.593 against lefties, with four HR in 59 AB; .248/.315/.469 against righties, with six HR in 113 AB. Cody Ransom's done pretty well against LHP since his acquisition: .265/.306/.647 (9-for-34, four doubles, three home runs), but he is, after all, Cody Ransom; this is likely a mirage and won't last.

If you can figure this out, tell Dale Sveum. I'm sure he'll adjust his lineup to your preferences.

Beyond that, Cubs starting pitching has been quite good; the team overall ERA of 3.71 ranks sixth in the National League. That might have resulted in more wins if not for the 20 unearned runs allowed, tied for second-most in the major leagues (with the Dodgers; the Astros have 26).

Also, the Pittsburgh area is under a severe thunderstorm watch until 10 p.m. ET and there's a pretty good chance this game will be delayed, if not postponed, given that there's an afternoon contest scheduled for tomorrow.

Cubs lineup:

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

More Julio Borbon against lefties. And Hairston gets another chance.

Pirates lineup:

Marte LF, Snider RF, McCutchen CF, Jones 1B, Walker 2B, Martin C, Alvarez 3B, Mercer SS, Liriano P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija


Cubs

vs. Francisco Liriano

Francisco Liriano


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Jeff Samardzija 2-5 9 9 0 0 0 0 56.2 47 26 22 6 21 64 3.49 1.20


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Francisco Liriano 2-0 2 2 0 0 0 0 11.0 12 2 2 0 5 16 1.64 1.55

Jeff Samardzija threw his best game of the season Opening Day, April 1 in Pittsburgh, eight shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out nine. He has been inconsistent since then, but his last outing was a good one, hopefully setting a tone going forward. Current Pirates are hitting just .130 (12-for-92) against him with 26 strikeouts.

Some people here thought the Cubs should take a chance on Francisco Liriano off the scrap heap. Instead, it was the Pirates signing him; he has made two starts since his return, both with decent results. He has one career start against the Cubs, June 12, 2012, while he was with the Twins. The Cubs hit him pretty hard that day. Here's hoping for another one like that one.

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 Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

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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