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The Next "Big Series" Of July: Cubs vs. Cardinals Preview, Friday 7/10, 1:20 CT

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Odd coincidence or serendipity?: Mark DeRosa won't be playing this weekend as he's on the DL, while one of the three pitchers acquired from Cleveland in the DeRosa trade last December will make his major league debut sometime over the weekend (presumably) after being recalled this morning to replace Kevin Hart on the roster. Hart is headed to Iowa to get some work before he himself is recalled after the All-Star break to make another start or two before Ryan Dempster returns from the DL himself.

Got all that straight? Good, because the Cubs have some ground to make up this weekend. Starting the weekend 3.5 games behind the first-place Cardinals, it would take a sweep to overtake them. That's unlikely, but winning three of four would put the Cubs 1.5 games behind going into the break, over .500 at 44-42, and in pretty good shape for the second half.

In the meantime, Bruce Miles tells us that the Cubs may indeed have interest in B.J. Ryan:

The 33-year-old Ryan will have to clear waivers, and once that happens, the Cubs likely will explore the possibility of signing him.

Insiders say any team that ends up with the former closer probably will want him to start out at Triple-A. The Blue Jays are on the hook for the approximately $15 million Ryan is owed through next season. The Cubs, or any team that picks up Ryan, will have to pay him only a prorated share of the major-league minimum salary this year and the minimum for 2010.

The idea of sending him to Iowa first ought to calm the fears of those who think he'd just blow games left and right for the Cubs. Try him out in Triple-A first. Sounds good to me. Get it done, Jim. Meanwhile, Jeff Stevens will be recalled today to fill the roster slot vacated by Hart.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Harden
Rich Harden
Cubs
vs. Brad Thompson
Brad Thompson
Cardinals
5-5 W-L 2-5
5.35 ERA 4.92
77 SO 19
32 BB 14
15 HR 7
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Rich Harden 5-5 14 13 0 0 0 0 69.0 71 45 41 15 32 77 5.35 1.49


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Brad Thompson 2-5 16 7 0 0 0 0 53.0 58 31 29 7 14 19 4.92 1.36

Brad Thompson shuttles back and forth between starting and relieving, though he has never started against the Cubs. He has had a couple of decent starts this year and several mediocre ones. The only current Cub to have more than a handful of AB vs. Thompson with any success is Derrek Lee (3-for-6, 2 HR). Aramis Ramirez is 0-for-6 against Thompson; maybe this would be a good day for him to sit.

Rich Harden is 2-1, 3.44 in three career starts vs. St. Louis. On April 26 in St. Louis, he struck out nine in six innings and the Cubs won 10-3. He's even handled Albert Pujols well -- 1-for-6 (a double).

Today's game is nationally available on WGN and on EI and in the St. Louis area via FSN Midwest. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Overflow comment threads will post today at 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm and 4 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.