Anthony Rizzo lived up to the hype in his Cubs debut Tuesday, going 2 for 4 with a tiebreaking RBI double in a 5-3 win over the slumping Mets (39-36). Making his presence felt early, Rizzo's heroics could result in the Cubs sweeping a three-game series from the New York Mets for the first time in over eight years when they meet in the finale at Wrigley this afternoon. Rizzo is considered one of Chicago's top prospects after he was acquired in a trade with San Diego during the winter. The first baseman hit .342 with 23 homers and 62 RBIs at Triple-A Iowa, and the major league-worst Cubs (26-48) felt the time was right to give him another stint in the majors.
A victory Wednesday would give Chicago its second series sweep of the season and match the team's longest win streak of 2012. The Cubs took all three meetings with San Diego at Wrigley Field from May 28-30. Jeff Samardzija (5-6, 4.34 ERA) will try to pitch the Cubs to their first three-game sweep of the Mets since April 23-25, 2004. The right-hander, though, is 0-3 with an 8.53 ERA four starts since winning the middle game of that series with the Padres in May. He went seven innings in that outing, the last time he completed at least six. Samardzija was hit hard again Friday, surrendering five runs and seven hits with six strikeouts and two walks in five-plus innings of a 6-1 loss at Arizona.
Jonathon Niese (5-3, 3.75) will try to get the Mets back on track and win consecutive starts for the first time since April. The left-hander is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in four starts this month, striking out 28 in 26 1-3 innings. He's the only Mets pitcher to record a victory in six games this season against the Yankees, yielding a pair of solo homers and six other hits - all singles - over 6 1-3 innings of a 6-4 win Friday. Niese however is 1-2 with a 5.95 ERA in four starts against the Cubs and with the wind blowing out to the outfield this afternoon, he may have to be especially sharp if the Mets are to avoid being swept.
We get a fairly decent price here, but even a more challenging number. However despite the seemingly tough total to overcome early we don't seem to be alarmed due to the Wrigley elements and heat given the conclusion of this series taking place in the afternoon. All season long the Mets offense has been a topic of inconsistency. However Lucas Duda (.260 11 42) has shown to be worthy leading the team in production and will look for more of it today as well as from David Wright (.354 8 42) who behind a 14 game hitting streak is second behind Carlos Ruiz in that category. Kirk Nieuwhenhuis (.277 7 25) has also proven to be a huge contributor since receiving the bulk of the playing time and Ike Davis (.192 9 37) has looked like he is near turning the corner after a slow start. Meanwhile as Alfonso Soriano (.271 14 45) continues to carry the bulk of the production load, most of his critics are looking for more of consistency as we approach the second half to support his seemingly lack of passion given the Cubs position in the standings. Bryan Lahair (.281 13 28) has also been one of the few bright spots now that he's getting full playing time. Starlin Castro (.301 6 39) has also been getting his opportunities leadign the team in hitting but Chicago must get more asisstance from it's lower core players if they expect to play for any pride left in an otherwise weak NL Central. We hope the value here given the pitchers and elements somehow nixes the slide we've been in over the last few weeks, where we've dropped 5 of our last 7 after the super start out of the gate. Best of luck however you play!