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Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Preview, Sunday 4/24, 1:20 CT: Fun With Numbers

In the Cubs' march from 0-0, stopping along the way at each benchmark to 10-10, the following things have happened:

  • They have had only five quality starts. That's dead last in the major leagues; no one else has fewer than seven. The Angels lead with 16; the Phillies lead the NL with 15.
  • Their first-base free-agent acquisition is hitting .176 with one extra-base hit (a double).
  • They've lost two of their five starters to injury and have replaced one of them with the College of Pitchers, which has been a complete and utter failure.
  • They have relievers with ERAs of 5.14, 6.23 and 8.64 encompassing a total of 24 innings; that's 36% of all relief innings thrown by the team so far. This has helped lead to the Cubs being outscored by 19 runs.
  • Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto and Marlon Byrd have combined for two HR and 19 RBI in 223 AB.

Now, if anyone had told you back in March that after 20 games, all those things would happen, you'd probably have figured the Cubs would be about 5-15, right? And yet, here they sit at .500, and only half a game behind the Cardinals and Reds, currently tied for first place. The NL Central is filled with flawed teams, the Cubs among them. Get some of these hitters going the way they can; have the starting pitchers produce the way they did last year when they were second in the majors with 96 quality starts; and stop giving away every fifth game by starting James Russell, and maybe this team can finally put together a winning streak of more than two games. (They haven't lost more than two straight, either.)

A good time to start such a streak would be today.

Note: yesterday it was reported that the 1951 Red Sox were one of two teams (1970 Yankees the other) to go to 9-9 as this year's Cubs did. That was, evidently, a typo -- the correct Red Sox team that did that was the 1915 Red Sox. FWIW, the 1915 Red Sox won 101 games and the World Series. Just a point of information, nothing more.

Cubs lineup:

Fukudome RF, Barney 2B, Castro SS, Ramirez 3B, Peña 1B, Byrd CF, Soriano LF, Soto C, Zambrano P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
vs. Hiroki Kuroda
Hiroki Kuroda
2-0 W-L 2-2
4.21 ERA 3.33
23 SO 16
10 BB 5
3 HR 5
vs. LA -- vs. Cubs

2011 - Carlos Zambrano 2-0 4 4 0 0 0 0 25.2 22 12 12 3 10 23 4.21 1.25

2011 - Hiroki Kuroda 2-2 4 4 0 0 0 0 27.0 27 11 10 5 5 16 3.33 1.19

The Cubs have somehow avoided seeing Hiroki Kuroda since Game 3 of the 2008 Division Series; about that game, the less said the better. The last time they faced him in the regular season was June 6, 2008 at Dodger Stadium; Kuroda was dominant that night. (Hard to believe that the 2008 97-win team actually had Sean Gallagher start a few games.) The Cubs had defeated him at Wrigley Field 10 days earlier; that's his only career start at Wrigley. Current Cubs are hitting .357 (10-for-28) vs. Kuroda with a pair of homers, one from Marlon Byrd, one from Jeff Baker.

Like Kuroda, Carlos Zambrano hasn't faced the Dodgers since the 2008 Division Series (Game 2 in his case). And, in his last regular season start against them on June 7, 2008 at Dodger Stadium, they hit him pretty good. But, check that boxscore. Only three of those starting eight are still on the Dodgers. One of them, Matt Kemp, has homered off Z -- he and Juan Uribe are the only current Dodgers who have.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago and Prime Ticket LA. The game is also being covered nationally on TBS, with announcers Brian Anderson and John Smoltz. Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Dodgers site True Blue LA.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 1:15 pm CDT and the overflow threads will post at 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm and 4 pm CDT. If you need more overflows due to rain delays or extra innings (or just another 3 1/2 hour game like yesterday's), post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.