Cubs vs. Diamondbacks Preview, Friday 5/31, 1:20 CT: A Few Words About Run Differential

USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs and D'backs are more closely matched than you might think from just a glance at the National League standings.

Entering today's game, the Cubs have scored 214 runs and allowed 208, a run differential of +6, but they stand eight games under .500 and 13½ games out of first place in the N.L. Central.

Entering today's game, the Diamondbacks have scored 220 runs and allowed 198, a run differential of +22, but they stand seven games over .500 and are in first place by 1½ games in the N.L. West.

Why the difference? Let's look inside the team records, and actually, we don't have to look very far at all. The D'backs are 13-8 in one-run games and the Cubs are 7-12. That accounts for almost all of the 7½-game difference between the two clubs. Oddly enough, the D'backs actually have more blown save opportunities than the Cubs do -- 11, to the Cubs' 10. In general, though, Arizona's bullpen work has been better than the Cubs'. And the Diamondbacks have Patrick Corbin -- who we'll see Sunday -- who's been just about the best pitcher in the league this year.

But this series matches up closer than you might expect from the team records. The Cubs are riding a four-game winning streak; the D'backs come in having played just once since Monday.

Also, because I know you'll be interested, here are the numbers for Cubs pitchers this season. They're hitting .180/.196/.360 (18-for-100) with six doubles, four home runs and 19 RBI. All 19 have come this month, which is a NL record for one team's pitchers for any calendar month, with today still to come.

However, in case you think I've changed my mind on the DH, consider this: in those 100 at-bats, Cubs pitchers have struck out 42 times. Overall, MLB pitchers are hitting .130/.160/.176 -- numbers that would be significantly worse without the Cubs' pitcher numbers in there -- with 679 strikeouts in 1558 at-bats (43.5 percent of all pitcher at-bats).

This month, watching Cubs pitchers hit has been fun. I doubt it'll last, though.

Here's an interesting story about the umpiring crew that's going to work today's game.

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Hairston RF, Castillo C, Ransom 3B, Barney 2B, Garza p

The D'backs lineup was not available at the time I wrote this post. Please check the BCB Twitter feed for today's D'backs lineup.

Today's Starting Pitchers

Matt Garza

Matt Garza


Cubs

vs. Wade Miley

Wade Miley


Diamondbacks

vs. Ari

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Matt Garza 0-0 2 2 0 0 0 0 9.0 5 4 4 1 7 12 4.00 1.33


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Wade Miley 3-4 10 10 0 0 0 0 57.2 59 30 29 5 21 42 4.53 1.39

Matt Garza has one good start and one mediocre one since his return. Despite missing much of last year, he faced the D'backs twice and threw 14 innings, allowed just three earned runs and struck out 14. That's good! Current Diamondbacks are 24-for-102 (.235) against him with just one home run. That's also good!

Wade Miley has one career start against the Cubs -- June 24, 2012 at Phoenix, the last game of the Cubs' 12-game losing streak last year. The Cubs are a better team now than they were then. Garza was his opponent in that game, but just four other Cubs who started that day are still on the team. Miley got pounded in his last start, last Saturday against the Padres. This is also good! (For the Cubs, that is, not for Miley.)

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 Diamondbacks site AZ Snakepit.

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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