Red Sox vs. Cubs: Live Stream, Injuries, Pitching Matchups and Fantasy Preview
Normally a series between two teams currently sitting in last place doesn't generate a lot of buzz. When the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs are involved, however, it's still treated like a first-rate matchup.
The Cubs have the worst record in baseball during their first season under the guidance of former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. It's going to take a rebuilding process to get Chicago back into contention but, after 104 years, the fans are tired of waiting.
It's a different story in Boston. The Red Sox were once again expected to challenge from the AL East crown. Alas, unreliable performances from the team's starting pitchers and a myriad of injuries have put the Red Sox in an early hole.
Here's a look at all the key information for a series between two of MLB's most storied franchises.
Which team will win Game 1?
When: Friday, June 15 at 2:20 p.m. ET
Where: Wrigley Field in Chicago, Ill.
Watch: NESN (Boston) and CSN (Chicago)
Live Stream: MLB.tv
Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
Red Sox: Daniel Nava (questionable, hand), Kevin Youkilis (questionable, ribs), Cody Ross (out, foot), Carl Crawford (out, wrist/elbow) and Jacoby Ellsbury (out, shoulder)
Cubs: Geovany Soto (out, knee) and Ian Stewart (out, wrist)
Starting for Boston: Daisuke Matsuzaka
Matsuzaka returned to a major league mound for the first time in more than a year last week after working his way back from Tommy John surgery. He allowed four runs in five innings, but actually looked pretty good with eight strikeouts and just one walk.
The biggest problem for Matsuzaka has always been a lack of control. He would always try to paint the corner of the plate instead of attacking hitters with his best stuff. So if he can keep his walk rate low, he should have a bounce-back season for the Red Sox.
He gets a favorable matchup against a Cubs offense that ranks fourth-worst in on-base percentage. He's had a full week to rest after his first start and should be in line for a good outing.
Jon Lester and Josh Beckett are scheduled to pitch Games 2 and 3.
Starting for Chicago: Ryan Dempster
If it weren't for Chicago's lackluster offense, Dempster would be getting a lot more respect for the terrific season he's having. Through 11 starts, the veteran hurler has a 2.31 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, both of which rank near the top of the National League, but just a 2-3 record.
The best walk rate of his career (2.43 per nine) is the main reason Dempster has been able to rebound so strongly from a disappointing 2011. He's been a rare bright spot in an otherwise forgettable year for the Cubbies and their diehard fans.
While Dempster catches a break due to all of Boston's injury issues, the Red Sox still have enough offensive firepower to do some damage if he isn't on top of his game. It's a good test.
Jeff Samardzija and Paul Maholm are scheduled to pitch Games 2 and 3.
Red Sox's Fantasy Studs
Although playing Ortiz at first base isn't an ideal scenario for the Red Sox, they can't afford for him to ride the pine for an entire series just because it's taking place in an NL park. On the bright side, he's played four games in the field this season and hasn't made an error.
The slugger has been enjoying another successful season to the tune of 15 home runs and 41 RBI while maintaining a .389 on-base percentage. Not only are they numbers fantasy owners love, but they're helping keep the Red Sox offense afloat.
Podsednik was once a valuable fantasy commodity based on his speed alone. He once stole 70 bases in a season for the Milwaukee Brewers and had 35 as recently as two seasons ago. His return to the majors has provided a much-needed boost to Boston's lineup.
He's hitting .373 with eight runs and four steals while filling in for the entire outfield the Red Sox have on the disabled list. His batting average will drop, but he'll be a cheap source of speed for owners until Boston gets healthy.
Cubs' Fantasy Studs
Which Cubs star will have a better series?
Like Dempster, LaHair's accomplishments have been widely overlooked because he's playing for the Cubs. He's enjoying a breakout season, posting a .957 OPS with 12 home runs. Not bad for a late bloomer who's already closing in on his 30th birthday.
LaHair has multi-position eligibility in most leagues, which makes him even more useful to fantasy owners. His batting average will likely dip as his batting average on balls in play levels out, but he should be able to maintain the power moving forward.
Having a player like Castro, who can contribute in just about every area at a weak fantasy position such as shortstop is a major advantage. So far this season, he's hitting .295 with five home runs and 16 stolen bases.
He'll need to start showing more plate discipline to become a more complete player, but that's not a major concern for most fantasy owners. As long as he continues to steal bases and show off some occasion pop—and there's no reason he shouldn't—he'll be a must-start option.
Game 1 Prediction
Cubs 3, Red Sox 2
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