Cubs unveil Szczur against Mets
(SportsNetwork.com) - The positive part of a lost season on the major league level is that fans of a team get to see a steady stream of prospects during summer's dog days.
Supporters of the Chicago Cubs are no different when it comes to 2014.
Outfielder Matt Szczur is scheduled to debut on the highest level on Sunday when the Cubs visit Citi Field for game three of a four-game series with the New York Mets.
The Cubs, who fell 18 games under .500 with a loss in Saturday's second game, nonetheless boast a farm system chock full of top-end prospects like Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell and Albert Almora. Javier Baez was brought up last week, and the slick-fielding Szczur figures to get his chance after homering once, driving in 52 runs and hitting .261 at Triple-A Iowa.
Right-hander Jake Arrieta will get the call in Szczur's unveiling in his latest turn as the ace of the staff since the deal that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland last month.
He was nicked for nine runs in a 13-4 loss at Colorado two starts ago, but returned Monday for 7 1/3 effective innings of two-run ball in a 3-1 loss to Milwaukee.
Outside of the bombing by Colorado, Arrieta has posted a 1.80 earned run average in 12 starts since early June. The first start of that run came against the Mets on June 3, in a game where Arrieta allowed one run in 4 2/3 innings of a game the Cubs won, 2-1.
New York's Rafael Montero gets a second assignment in place of injured rookie Jacob deGrom.
Montero started on Tuesday for the first time since May 30 and was dinged for five runs on seven hits in a 7-1 loss to Washington.
He's given up eight home runs in five starts overall.
"The batters here are a little bit better," he said. "It doesn't feel great but it doesn't discourage me. It's just part of the game. It's going to happen every once in a while and as a pitcher I just have to keep working through that."
On Saturday, Juan Lagares drove in two runs and scored once, while Jon Niese tossed six solid innings to help the Mets beat the Cubs, 7-3.
Niese (7-8) gave up three runs, struck out six and scattered seven hits in his second straight win after losing four starts in a row since returning from the disabled list.
Wilmer Flores also finished with two RBI, while Niese and Matt den Dekker each knocked in a run for the Mets, who have won two in a row after snapping a three-game losing streak on Friday. David Wright was hit by a pitch in sixth inning. He stayed in the game to run the bases, eventually scoring, but was replaced by Eric Campbell at third to start the seventh.
Welington Castillo and Justin Ruggiano both homered and Ryan Sweeney singled in a run in a pinch-hit appearance for Chicago, which has dropped three in a row.
Dan Straily (0-1) took the loss in his first game for the Cubs since being acquired from Oakland in July. He gave up seven runs -- five earned -- on just four hits, while walking three over 5 1/3 innings.
08/17 09:41:02 ET