If the Cubs had stayed on-rotation, today would have been Jason Hammel's turn, coming off the bereavement list.
By pushing Hammel back to tomorrow, the Cubs accomplish two things:
- Buying an extra day to make a roster move to activate Hammel, and
- Having John Lackey start against the Cardinals next Sunday.
It should be mentioned that this is likely the reason the Cubs slotted Brian Matusz in for his one-and-done Cubs start on July 31. Since the Cubs won that game (not because of anything Matusz did), it worked out. Somehow, things seem to do that for this year's Cubs. Incidentally, Matusz cleared waivers and the Cubs sent him outright to Iowa, so he's still in the organization.
Happy 27th birthday to Jason Heyward. Hopefully, this milestone will do something to trigger a good final seven weeks of the season. (Yes, I'm reaching.)
Heyward turns 27 one day after Anthony Rizzo, who was able to celebrate his birthday on a Cubs off day, riding a seven-game winning streak. You might remember that Rizzo gave David Ross a Father's Day card back in June. Grandpa Rossy got back at Rizzo with a birthday tweet. In case you missed this in Cub Tracks this morning:
Cubs life is good. Let's keep it going.
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Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Soler LF, Heyward RF, Russell SS, Contreras C, Lackey P
Escobar 3B, Calhoun RF, Trout CF, Pujols 1B, Simmons SS, Choi LF, Bandy C, Weaver P, Pennington 2B
John Lackey pitched for the Angels for eight seasons and he and Jered Weaver were teammates for four of those years, three of which were playoff seasons (2007-09). Lackey pitched against the Angels six times when he was with the Red Sox from 2010-13, the last time three years ago, July 7, 2013. It says a lot about the Angels that the only players left on their team from that game are Mike Trout and Albert Pujols -- and Weaver, who started that game for the Angels and outdueled Lackey. The Angels player who's faced Lackey most is Yunel Escobar (11-for-30, .367, three doubles).
Jered Weaver used to be really, really good. The velocity on all his pitches has been dropping for at least four years, and his fastball now clocks at an average speed of 83.7 miles per hour, which is... well, let's just say that if he weren't still under contract for $20 million, he probably wouldn't be in the big leagues. He's allowed 23 home runs in 123.1 innings this year, his K rate is a pretty awful 4.7 per nine innings, and his ERA has not been below 5.00 since May. In short, he's reaching the end of his career, and the Cubs should be able to hit him hard.
Ben Zobrist has seen a lot of him: 8-for-27, three doubles, a triple, a home run. That's the kind of thing we're likely to see more of tonight.
Today's game is on WGN. For affiliate information in the Illinois/Indiana/Iowa Cubs TV market click here.
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The 2016 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used at the end of 2015. Here's how it works.
You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).
At the same time, a StoryStream™ containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap 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 the game's StoryStream™ as noted above.
The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.