The Chicago Cubs (3-9) dropped the first two games of their three pack against the Miami Marlins (6-6), but they get once last chance to salvage a win and avoid the series sweep with Jeff Samardzija on the mound. The 27-year old right-handed pitcher has been one of the bright spots for the Cubs so far, and his numbers have looked good even beyond the glossy 2-0 record. He has averaged 8.56 strikeouts per nine innings and just 0.66 walks per nine, good for a 2.19 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), according to FanGraphs.com.
The Marlins will be without second baseman Omar Infante (left groin strain), who will sit out for the second consecutive game. Meanwhile, the Cubs will be with center fielder Marlon Byrd, but he's not really been all there this season. Paul Casella of Cubs.com explains:
Even with his base knock in Tuesday's loss, Marlon Byrd still has fewer hits than any Major Leaguer with as many at-bats as the Cubs' center fielder.
The fifth-inning single was just the third hit this season for Byrd, who raised his average to .081 with his 1-for-3 performance. He has yet to record an extra-base hit in 37 at-bats this season.
"We've got to get him going," said manager Dale Sveum, who added that he wants to see what happens with Byrd around the 100 at-bat mark. "We've got to get him swinging the bat. That's a big part of our lineup. He's playing a real nice center field. He's doing a great job out there. He's playing hard and battling and working his butt off to get out of it."
Game Date & Time: Thursday, April 19, 11:40 a.m. CT
Starters: Jeff Samardzija (2-0, 3.95 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 3.46 ERA)
Location: Marlins Park; Miami, FL
Radio: AM 720
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