Series Preview (and game thread): Giants (6-3) at Cubs (3-5)

seriespreview

The Cubs will get a whiff of success this weekend, and it will probably be coming from the other dugout. (Blatantly plagarized from Brett's preview blurb at Bleacher Nation, because it's too funny. Take that, Paul Sullivan. Or something.) The Cubs are on a roll, not having lost for two straight days. The Giants, meanwhile, have crushed all before them and are coming off a sweep of the Rockies. I've been more down on the Giants this year than most, but they're a team that I always seem to underrate.

Team Overviews

2012 NL rank listed for each stat

  Giants Cubs
wRC+ 99 (4th) 80 (16th)
BSR 4.6 (7th) -8.1 (14th)
UZR 13.9 (4th) 30.5 (2nd)
DRS -7 (8th) -7 (7th)
SP FIP- 102 (10th) 108 (13th)
RP FIP- 99 (10th) 116 (16th)

Injury news

The Giants have no significant injuries to speak of. Pablo Sandoval had some nerve irritation in his elbow in March that the Giants are being careful with, but that's about it.

Darwin Barney starts a rehab assignment with Kane County tomorrow.

Fun with small sample sizes

Welington Castillo has been the Cubs hottest hitter so far this year. He has a .381/.409/.619 slash line, good for a .440 wOBA. Castillo has looked pretty good at the plate in general, making solid contact. I like his throwing arm behind the plate, though his throws have not been as accurate as in the first few games. It seems like a lot of runners have been stealing off the pitchers. Nate Schierholtz is right behind Castillo, with .304/.385/.565 and .406. I'm finding myself liking the RF platoon a lot more than I thought I would in the offseason. One nice thing about Schierholtz is that he's not a big enough name that a manager is likely to keep him out there vs lefties since he's had a hot start to the year. There's still time yet.

Jeff Samardzija has a K% of 40.7%.

Brent Lillibridge is 0 for 17 with no walks. Marlon Byrd must be his role model.

Tim Lincecum has walked 11 batters in 11 innings.

Pitching matchups

I list each pitcher's 2012 ERA, FIP-, xFIP, and their 2013 ZiPS projection

Thursday: Ryan Vogelsong, RHP (3.37, 99, 4.15, 3.87) vs Scott Feldman, RHP (5.09, 86, 3.87, 4.08), 1:20 PM CT

Vogelsong was so bad that the Wandy Rodriguez HOF might as well be renamed in his honor. I'm still kind of baffled by how good he's been since joining the Giants (see also: Samardzija, Jeff). He's not a guy who strikes too many batters out, and his big problem in his Pirates career was walks. It dropped by one and a half walkers per nine in his second career, and has showed no signs of inching up. He was hit hard by the Cardinals in his first start, giving up five runs in five innings and change. The Cards big inning doesn't necessarily reflect badly on him though – it was an infield single, a walk, and a couple more singles and suddenly it was three runs. He has a decent fastball, but his best pitch is his curveball.

Feldman (and everyone else) was pushed back a day due to the rainout. I'm lazy, so I'll just repeat what I wrote in my last preview.

Feldman was awful in his first start. He gave up four runs in four innings and change, and was lucky that he didn't give up even more. His control was all over the place. I'm really hoping that he's the one who gets squeezed out of the rotation when Garza gets back. Villaneuva seems like the obvious choice for that though, and I wouldn't put Travis Wood out of the question either since the Cubs are likely planning to try and trade Feldman and Villanueva.

Friday: Matt Cain, RHP (2.79, 61, 3.82, 3.30) vs Carlos Villanueva, RHP (4.16, 114, 4.09, 4.22), 1:20 PM CT

I guess Cain has earned the right not to be referred to as Ricky Nolasco around here. Cain's best pitch is all of them, but especially his slider, which he throws equally likely on any count. Cain shut out the Dodgers for six innings on opening day, but was absolutely shelled by the Cardinals in his following start. He gave up nine runs in 3.2 innings and struck out only two.

I thought Villaneueva looked pretty good in his last start, and that's no even considering his excellent mustache. He worked into the seventh, striking out six and allowing only a solo HR to Justin Upton. Carlos Marmol apparently decided to one-up him by allowing homers to both Uptons in the ninth.

Saturday: Madison Bumgarner, LHP (3.37, 94, 3.45, 3.24) vs Jeff Samardzija, RHP (3.81, 89, 3.38, 3.39), 12:05 PM CT

Bumgarner went eight innings in his first start shutting out the Dodgers on two hits, striking out six, and walking no one. He struggled in his next start against the Rockies, walking five in 5.2 innings but only yielding two runs. He'll get to face the vaunted Cubs RHH lineup that looked so awful against the likes of Wandy and Mike Minor.

Shark was electric for the first four innings of Sunday's game, striking out ten batters. Things started getting wild for him when he had to pitch out of the stretch later in the game though. He walked two batters and threw two wild pitches in the fifth, then had a walk and a HBP on his way out in the sixth. But those first four innings, wow. Kerry Wood was on everyone's mind. He had everything going to start that game.

Sunday: The Collapsing Remains of Tim Lincecum's Career, RHP (5.18, 98, 3.82, 3.70), vs Edwin Jackson, RHP (4.03, 99, 3.79, 3.68), 1:20 PM CT

Lincecum fell off a cliff after signing his giant extension at the beginning of 2012. His strikeout rate was much steadier than I thought, but he started walking a lot more batters, and coughed up some more gopherballs. Some of that could be bad luck, but the concerning thing is that he lost 2 mph off his fastball last year, and it looks like it had a detrimental effect on the rest of his pitches too. His changeup velocity did not drop, for example. Still, I don't know how much of a difference a 7mph vs a 9mph gap between those pitches would make. He's walked 11 batters already this year.

Jackson got rocked early in his last start, but the coaching staff noticed something was up with his grip and he pitched fine after that. He's still hoping to put together his first solid start in a Cubs uniform. Also that the Chicago Police weren't so zealous about parking violations.

 

Lineups for today's game

Giants

  1. CF Angel Pagan
  2. SS Brandon Crawford
  3. 3B Pablo Sandoval
  4. C Buster Posey
  5. RF Hunter Pence
  6. 1B Brandon Belt
  7. LF Gregor Blanco
  8. 2B Nick Noonan
  9. P Vogelsong

Cubs

  1. CF David DeJesus
  2. SS Starlin Castro
  3. 1B Anthony Rizzo
  4. LF Alfonso Soriano
  5. RF Nate Schierholtz
  6. C Welington Castillo
  7. 3B Luis Valbuena
  8. 2B Hide your kids
  9. P Feldman

 

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