Description: Cubs outfielder David DeJesus is just 3-for-19 (.158) against Reds hurler Bronson Arroyo.
Insight: DeJesus has never been a strong fantasy option because he doesn't excel in any category, but he has a .297 average, five homers, 16 RBI, 24 runs and an .873 OPS through 43 games. This matchup, however, isn't a good one.
Description: Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano is 10-for-50 against Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo with 15 strikeouts and a meager .601 OPS.
Insight: What damage Soriano has done this season has been primarily produced in Wrigley Field where he is hitting 105 points higher than on the road (.317 vs. .212). Unfortunately this series is in Cincinnati.
Description: Cubs starter Edwin Jackson allowed four runs on six hits in three innings Thursday afternoon at Pittsburgh.
Insight: Jackson is now 1-7 with a 6.11 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP. However, his 3.66 FIP suggests he has outpitched his actual numbers. The right-hander came into his start Thursday having allowed just a 15.1 percent line-drive rate with men on base but stranded 57.8 percent of baserunners. After Thursday's game, his strand rate is down to 56.4 percent.
Description: Cubs starter Matt Garza (lat) allowed just one hit and no runs in five innings Tuesday against the Pirates in his first start since July 21, 2012.
Insight: Garza suffered an elbow injury last July, and while he has been completely healed for awhile, he went down with a lat strain in spring training and missed the first seven weeks of the season. The right-hander should post an ERA under 4.00 with close to a strikeout per inning, but he won't win many games on this team.
Description: Cubs starter Matt Garza (lat) has been activated from the DL and will start Tuesday against the Pirates.
Insight: Garza has spent the entire season on the disabled list after suffering a lat strain during spring training. He also missed the final two months last year with an elbow injury, but that injury is completely healed. Garza should be activated in all leagues Tuesday.
Description: Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz is not in the starting lineup for Tuesday's against Pittsburgh. A platoon issue, no injury here.
Insight: Schierholtz is batting .285 with five homers and 19 RBI. He has been Chicago's starting right fielder against right-handers all season and has done nothing to lose the job, but Wandy Rodriguez is on the mound for the Pirates.
Description: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is a .182 hitter (4-for-22) against Pittsburgh left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.
Insight: Castro's K/BB (30/7) is undesirable, but he's still usually good to bat around .300 with 80 runs and 25 stolen bases. He's a bit under that pace at the moment and this matchup isn't likely to help.
Description: Cubs starter Scott Feldman scattered seven hits over 6 2/3 scoreless frames Saturday in a win over the Mets.
Insight: Feldman has been tremendous this year, going 4-3 with a 2.19 ERA in 49 1/3 innings. His 3.97 FIP suggests he'll regress once his .236 BABIP does, but he has been deserving of that BABIP due to his 14.5 percent line-drive rate, one of the best in baseball. The right-hander has stranded 76.9 percent of runners this season, up from 67.4 percent for his career.
Description: Cubs starter Matt Garza (lat) will make his season debut Tuesday against the Pirates, according to Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald.
Insight: Garza has spent the entire season on the disabled list after suffering a lat strain during spring training. He also missed the final two months last year with an elbow injury, but that injury is completely healed. Garza's return will bump Carlos Villanueva to the bullpen.
Description: Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva will shift to the bullpen when Matt Garza returns to the rotation, according to Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald.
Insight: Villanueva had a 1.53 ERA after four starts, but his ERA has risen to 3.93 after throwing three non-quality starts in his last four outings. Meanwhile, Scott Feldman has been excellent, so Villanueva is the odd man out.
Description: Cubs starter Matt Garza (lat) three six scorelss innings in a rehab start and will throw a bullpen session on Saturday. If all goes well he could be activated and starting next week.
Insight: Garza was a 15 game winner back in 2010 (with Tampa Bay), but has just 15 wins in two seasons with the Cubs. His ERA has been under four in six consecutive seasons and he's a decent low end fantasy starter.
Description: Cubs outfielder David DeJesus has gone 6-for-12 with a homer, three RBI and five runs over his last three games.
Insight: DeJesus doesn't have much power or speed and his career average is .281, so he has never been a strong fantasy option. But he has a .290 average, five homers, 17 extra-base hits and an .878 OPS through 38 games.
Description: Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva was battered for 12 hits and seven earned runs in five innings Tuesday against the Rockies.
Insight: That won't help Villanueva (1-3, 3.93 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) keep his spot in the rotation when Matt Garza returns next week. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said that he might go to a six-man rotation in the weeks following Garza's return, but we can't see him sticking with that for long. Either Villanueva or Scott Feldman will move to the bullpen eventually.
Description: Anthony Rizzo has signed a seven-year, $41 million deal with the Cubs with club options for 2020-21.
Insight: Rizzo is a talent you can build your team around and the Cubs recognized that. He hit 15 home runs in half a season last year and after a slow start is batting .280 with nine homers and 28 RBI this season. As long as the money doesn't mess up his head, he should be a fantasy stud for many years.
Description: Edwin Jackson's streak of eight starts in a row without a victory ended Saturday against Washington.
Insight: Jackson allowed two runs in 5 1/3 IP. Only three pitchers in the National League have produced a higher ERA than Jackson this season (6.02). He hasn't been a helpful fantasy contributor since 2011 (3.79 ERA in 32 games).
Description: Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa (forearm) has been activated from the disabled list.
Insight: Fujikawa hasn't pitched since early April due to a strained right forearm. He'll return to a setup role, as Kevin Gregg has gone 5-for-5 in save chances recently. However, Gregg is as shaky as they come, so we could see Fujikawa regain the role eventually.
Description: Cubs outfielder Scott Hairston doesn't play every day, but if he's in Friday's lineup he's worth a flier as he is 5-for-9 with four extra base hits versus Washington left-hander Ross Detwiler.
Insight: Hairston has has done very little this season with his .132 batting average, but he has shown some power with three homers in 38 at-bats.
Description: Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano is a prime candidate for the afternoon off as he's a career .100 hitter (3-for-30) against Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook. Update - Soriano is not in Wednesday's starting lineup. Update - Soriano is not in Wednesday's starting lineup
Insight: Soriano has rebounded from a slow start and is hitting .333 over the past six games, so you might try to resist this numbers, but don't. Soriano had 32 homers and 108 RBI last season, but other than a two-homer day last Saturday hasn't put on much of a power display this year. Wednesday is an unfavorable matchup to avoid.
Description: Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano is a prime candidate for the afternoon off as he's a career .100 hitter (3-for-30) against Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook. Update - Soriano is not in Wednesday's starting lineup.
Insight: Soriano has rebounded from a slow start and is hitting .333 over the past six games, so you might try to resist this numbers, but don't. Soriano had 32 homers and 108 RBI last season, but other than a two-homer day last Saturday hasn't put on much of a power display this year. Wednesday is an unfavorable matchup to avoid.
Description: According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Cubs starter Matt Garza (lat) could rejoin the rotation during the May 17-19 home series against New York.
Insight: Garza will make his second rehab start Monday for Triple-A Iowa. He'll be evaluated after his third rehab start to determine whether he needs a fourth. If he doesn't, he'll be activated during that series against the Mets.
Description: Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano owns a batting average under .100 against Mike Leake of the Reds.
Insight: After putting up 32 homers and 108 RBI last season, Soriano has been a disaster in 2013, hitting one homer and driving in just two runs. He's 2-for-21 (.095) against Leake, so don't look for any kind of turnaround Friday.
Description: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro should enjoy seeing Reds starter Mike Leake Friday afternoon. Castro is 12-for-32 (.375) with three doubles, a triple and six RBI against the Cincinnati right-hander.
Insight: Castro's K/BB (20/3) once again is undesirable, but he has produced a .296 career average in 1,903 at-bats while putting up a 2.79 K/BB. He's batting .283 with three homers and two steals this season.
Description: Cubs starter Travis Wood has thrown a quality start (6 innings or more, three earned runs or less) in all six turns this season.
Insight: Wood dropped to 2-2 after losing a 3-2 game against the Padres Thursday, but he allowed just four hits and a walk in 7 2/3 innings. Wood has a 2.50 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP in 39 2/3 innings after posting a 4.27/1.20 season in 156 innings in 2012.
Description: Cubs outfielder Scott Hairston went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer Thursday afternoon against the Padres.
Insight: Hairston has just four hits in 34 at-bats this season, but three were home runs. He was searching for an everyday job as a free agent this past offseason, but he has not found that with the Cubs. The team has used Nate Schierholtz as the everyday right fielder.
Description: Chicago righthander Scott Feldman tossed a complete game Wednesday versus the Padres.
Insight: Wednesday was Feldman's first career complete game. In nine innings, Feldman surrendered just three hits and two earned runs. Feldman (2-3, 3.34 ERA) also produced a season-high 12 strikeouts during the victory.
Description: Chicago righthander Matt Garza's return from a lat injury is not imminent. He'll need at least three rehab starts before he's ready to face major league hitters. SOURCE: Carrie Muskat, MLB.com
Insight: If that timetable is accurate, the earliest we'd see Garza back in a Cubs uniform would be mid-May. Garza hasn't pitched in a game at the big league level since last July.
Description: Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa (forearm) is expected to head to Triple-A Iowa Sunday for a rehab assignment.
Insight: Fujikawa threw 32 pitches in a bullpen session Monday, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. He'll throw one more bullpen before starting his assignment. Cubs manager Dale Sveum indicated that he's still going with a closer-by-committee approach, but Fujikawa is his best option.
Description: Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo crushed two homers Friday in a win over Miami.
Insight: That gives Rizzo eight round-trippers for the season, which ties him with J.P. Arencibia, Chris Davis and Bryce Harper for second in the major leagues. That's pretty impressive. What's not impressive is the fact that nearly 31 percent of Rizzo's at bats have resulted in strikeouts (26 whiffs in 85 at bats).
Description: Cubs righty Matt Garza's "dead arm" is feeling better and he'll be able to make a rehab start this week, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. He has been out since spring training due to a lat injury.
Insight: Garza was scratched from a rehab start Wednesday after experiencing the condition following a bullpen session Sunday, but he looks to be back on track and will return sometime in May.
Description: Kevin Gregg recorded his first save as a member of the Cubs Tuesday night in Cincinnati.
Insight: Let's not get carried away here. Gregg has been bouncing around the league for the better part of two seasons now and manager Dale Sveum insists that he'll continue to employ a closer-by-matchup approach in the ninth inning. Gregg is certainly in the mix for saves in Chicago but we're not ready to hand him our full endorsement just yet.
Description: Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija fell to 1-4 with a tough-luck loss to the Reds Wednesday afternoon.
Insight: Samardzija struck out eight and held the Reds to one run despite putting 10 men on base in six innings. He has a 3.03 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and a 39/10 K/BB in 32 2/3 innings but he won't win more than 10 or 11 games pitching for this team.
Description: Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano is not in the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against Cincinnati. No injury, just a day of rest for a 37-year-old body.
Insight: Soriano went 0-for-6 on Monday, but a three-hit Tuesday raised his average to .286. He still has just one homer after hitting 32 last year. Fantasy owners await a power surge, but it won't be on Wednesday.
Description: Cubs righty Matt Garza (lat) has been scratched from his scheduled rehab start Wednesday due to a "dead arm." SOURCE: Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun-Times
Insight: Garza has been experiencing the condition since Sunday's bullpen session. He'll throw another bullpen by the end of the week and get his rehab start rescheduled. The best case scenario is that we'll see Garza back in the first week of May.
Description: Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva has thrown four straight quality starts to begin the season.
Insight: Villanueva took a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning Tuesday against the Reds but he walked Shin-Soo Choo leading off the inning and was removed after a sacrifice bunt. Carlos Marmol came on and promptly allowed a game-tying single to Joey Votto. Villanueva is still just 1-0 despite allowing just 16 hits and five earned runs in 29 1/3 innings this season.
Description: Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano went 3-for-4 with a run and two steals Tuesday against the Reds.
Insight: Soriano went 0-for-6 on Monday but Tuesday's performance raised his average to .286. He still has just one homer after hitting 32 last year. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect him to suddenly start stealing bases again; he had just 22 total from 2009-12.
Description: Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano is just 2-for-18 in his career against Cincinnati right-hander Mike Leake.
Insight: Soriano had his modest six-game hitting streak halted on Sunday and Monday's matchup doesn't figure to be the start of another one. After last season's renaissance (32 HR, 108 RBI), much is expected of Soriano, but to date, we have just one home run and a couple of RBI to show for it. Sit Soriano on Monday.
Description: Cubs starter Edwin Jackson allowed five runs on four hits in six innings Saturday against the Brewers, but just one of the runs was earned and Jackson walked only one batter.
Insight: The Cubs' defense made two errors in the bottom of the fifth, leading to three unearned runs, and Jackson made an error in the bottom of the sixth that led to another unearned run. Otherwise, it was the right-handers best outing of the season. He walked 10 batters in 16 1/3 innings over his first three starts, but he has 24 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings this year and is a solid buy-low candidate.
Description: Cubs righthander Matt Garza had his rehab start Friday cancelled because of bad weather conditions. Instead, he'll get the ball for Double-A Tennessee next Wednesday. SOURCE: Jesse Rogers, ESPN Chicago
Insight: He's been working his way back from a lat injury and it looks like he could be back in the major leagues by the end of the month. He's Chicago's best pitcher when he's healthy.
Description: Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings Thursday against Texas to pick up his first win of the season.
Insight: Villanueva only allowed nine hits and one run over his first two starts but he had two no decisions. The right-hander had some success after joining Toronto's rotation last season and should be owned in most leagues.
Description: Due to Wednesday's rainout between the Cubs and Rangers, Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija will avoid Texas and face the Milwaukee Brewers in his next start.
Insight: The Cubs will just push back their rotation a day, giving Carlos Villanueva the start on Thursday. Samardzija is 1-2 but owns a 2.75 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and a 27/6 K/BB in 19 2/3 innings this season. The injury-riddled Brewers are undoubtedly a better matchup than the Rangers.
Description: Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney (knee) will return to action Tuesday.
Insight: Barney started the season on the DL after suffering a deep gash in his knee in spring training. Barney has batted .263 with nine homers, 89 RBIs and 15 steals in 329 games in the big leagues, so he has no fantasy value.
Description: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro hit a home run and drove in two runs Sunday against the Giants. Castro went 3-for-5 to raise his average to .315.
Insight: He has five multi-hit efforts over his last seven games and two homers in 12 games this season. The shortstop has increased his homers and steals in each of the last two seasons and has a career average of .297.
Description: Cubs starting pitcher Scott Feldman (back) will have his start pushed back until next Saturday, according to beat writer Bruce Miles.
Insight: Feldman has pitched poorly in his first two outings, going 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA and 2.11 WHIP. He once won 17 games with the Rangers (2009), but that feels like ages ago. He has minimal fantasy value.
Description: Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano carries a .462 career batting average (1.511 OPS) in 13 at-bats versus Giants righthander Madison Bumgarner.
Insight: Soriano has done zero to help fantasy owners this season, batting just .179 with zero homers or RBI. After last season's renaissance (32 HR, 108 RBI), much is expected. Maybe this favorable matchup will get him started.
Description: Cubs catcher Welington Castillo went 2-for-4 Friday afternoon against the Giants and is hitting .414 this season.
Insight: Castillo is 12-for-29 with two doubles, one homer and four RBIs, but he has struck out six times and hasn't walked. He profiles as more of a power-hitting catcher than someone who will hit for a high average.
Description: Cubs closer Kyuji Fujikawa gave up three hits and three runs to blow a save Friday afternoon against the Giants, but Chicago scored two in the bottom of the ninth off Sergio Romo to win the game.
Insight: Fujikawa has given up eight hits and six runs in his first 4 1/3 big league innings, but he's a better closing option than Carlos Marmol.
Description: If you've been looking for an excuse to start Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano, here it is. Soriano carries a .417 average in 12 appearances versus Giants righthander Ryan Vogelsong.
Insight: The Cubs were rained out on Wednesday so Soriano should be well-rested for Thursday's 2:20 ET start against San Francisco. He's been striking out like a fiend lately (nine whiffs in 31 at bats this season) but we're guessing Soriano will be able to turn things around with Vogelsong on the hill.
Description: Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano is a .377 hitter (20-for-53) against Milwaukee right-hander Kyle Lohse with four homers and a 1.079 OPS.
Insight: Soriano's start to the season (.194, zero homers, zero RBI) isn't what fantasy owners were looking for after his impressive 2012 season (.262, 32 HR, 108 RBI). Perhaps this favorable matchup can get him back in the groove.
Description: Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Kyuji Kujikawa will take over for Carlos Marmol as the team's closer.
Insight: Marmol blew the save Saturday in Atlanta and has now allowed two or more runs in his last two outings. This isn't the first time Marmol has lost the closer's job and it's still possible that he could return to his ninth inning role later on in the year. Marmol has always been a high risk, high reward fantasy option. Lately, however, there's been much more risk than reward.
Description: We're just a week into the season, but Kyuji Fujikawa has been named as the Cubs' new closer, replacing Carlos Marmol. SOURCE: Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune.
Insight: Marmol has blown a save and came close to blowing two others this season. He has allowed five runs, six hits, two walks and two homers in 1 2/3 innings. Fujikawa gave up three runs on four hits in the eighth inning Sunday but he is definitely a safer option than Marmol given his history of success in Japan.
Description: Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has just six hits in 35 at-bats against Tim Hudson, but three were homers.
Insight: The best-case scenario for Soriano Sunday is likely 1-for-4 with a homer, but chances aren't good that he'll connect off Hudson. He has struck out six times and is 3-for-19 (.158) through five games.
Description: The Carlos Marmol rollercoaster took another turn Saturday against the Braves as the Cubs righty blew a save by allowing a solo homer to each Upton brother in the bottom of the ninth.
Insight: Marmol has allowed six hits, two walks and five earned runs in 1 2/3 innings over three appearances. However, potential replacement Kyuji Fujikawa gave up three runs on four hits and a walk in the eighth inning Saturday, so this situation is as messy as ever.
Description: Cubs closer Carlos Marmol nearly blew a save Thursday against the Pirates. He entered with a three-run lead and allowed two runs on three hits and one walk but finished the game off.
Insight: That comes on the heels of getting pulled from a save chance for Kyuji Fujikawa on Opening Day. He probably would have been yanked Thursday as well if Fujikawa hadn't already pitched in the eighth. With Fujikawa in the fold, Marmol doesn't appear long for this job.
Description: Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano is coming off a very good season (.262, 32 HR, 108 RBI), but will be tested in a matchup that has mostly favored pitcher Wandy Rodriguez. Soriano is just a .122 hitter in 41 at-bats with 12 strikeouts.
Insight: Soriano made some changes to his swing in 2012 and the long ball returned to his repertoire. Fantasy owners are hoping to squeeze one more power season out of the 37-year-old, but it likely won't happen for him on Wednesday.
Description: Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano is coming off a very good season (.262, 32 HR, 108 RBI), but will be tested early in a matchup that has always favored pitcher A.J. Burnett. Soriano is just a .227 hitter with five singles in 22 at-bats and nine strikeouts.
Insight: Soriano made some changes to his swing in 2012 and the long ball returned to his repertoire. Fantasy owners are hoping to squeeze one more power season out of the 37-year-old.
Description: Chicago ace Matt Garza has been placed on the DL with a strained lat muscle.
Insight: Garza has resumed throwing but he's still at least a month away from pitching in a major league game. Garza would have been the Cubs' Opening Day starter but instead, they'll turn to Jeff Samardzija Monday against Pittsburgh.
Description: Cubs 3B Ian Stewart's latest MRI showed fluid in his left quadriceps and he's expected to start the season on the disabled list.
Insight: Stewart has some power but has never been able to stay healthy, so this fits into his pattern. At this point Luis Valbuena is the likely Opening Day starter at third base and could end up getting more time over the season than Stewart. Valbuena hit just .219 last season with little power so fantasy owners shouldn't expect him to be a viable fantasy option.
Description: Cubs 3B Ian Stewart will have another MRI on his left quad Monday, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Stewart has only played one game since suffering an injury on Feb. 21.
Insight: Stewart has some power but he has been a miserable hitter in each of the last two seasons and missed the final three months of the 2012 season after having wrist surgery. Josh Vitters was optioned Sunday, leaving Luis Valbuena as the likely Opening Day starter at third base.
Description: Cubs right-hander Scott Baker (elbow) will make his spring training debut Sunday. SOURCE: Carrie Muskat, MLB.com
Insight: Baker had Tommy John surgery last April when he was with the Twins. Including Baker, the Cubs have four pitchers that could fill the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, the other three being Carlos Villanueva, Travis Wood and Scott Feldman. Baker could return to the rotation before April is over if he avoids setbacks.
Description: There have been conflicting reports about when Cubs starter Matt Garza will return from his lat injury.
Insight: Garza told ESPN's Bruce Levine that he's hoping to be back by the second week of April while Chicago Sun-Times beat writer Gordon Wittenmyer is reporting that Garza will be out until May at the earliest. Either way, it sounds like Garza (5-7, 3.91 ERA) won't be available for the team's regular season opener in Pittsburgh on April 1st.
Description: Chicago Cubs righthander Matt Garza (lat strain) "appears resigned" to missing the first two weeks of the regular season, but manager Dale Sveum says it is "way too early to evaluate" Garza's status. "We're planning on him being ready for the start of the season," Sveum said. SOURCE: Chicago Tribune
Insight: Garza suffered a lat strain 11 days ago and was initially ruled out for a week. He is also coming back from an elbow injury the ended his 2012 season.
Description: Chicago Cubs righthander Matt Garza (lat strain) is scheduled to resume throwing Thursday. SOURCE: Roger Mooney, CSNChicago.com
Insight: Garza suffered a lat strain about 10 days ago. The right-hander can be counted on for a solid ERA, WHIP and strikeout total this season, but fantasy owners shouldn't expect a ton of wins on a team that has averaged 69 victories over the past three seasons.
Description: Chicago Cubs righthander Matt Garza had an MRI on his lat strain and nothing worse was found.
Insight: Garza will rest for about a week. The right-hander can be counted on for a solid ERA, WHIP and strikeout total this season, but fantasy owners shouldn't expect a ton of wins on a team that has averaged 69 victories over the past three seasons.
Description: Cubs righthander Matt Garza left his first live batting practice session Sunday with a strained left lat muscle. SOURCE: Paul Sullivan, Chicago Triune
Insight: Cubs manager Dale Sveum didn't think the injury was too serious. Garza missed the final two months of the 2012 season with elbow problems but said on the first day of camp that he is 100 percent. The right-hander can be counted on for a solid ERA, WHIP and strikeout total this season but fantasy owners shouldn't expect a ton of wins.
Description: Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Thursday that Scott Feldman will be in the starting rotation. SOURCE: MLBlogs.com
Insight: That leaves just one spot open in the starting five, with Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson, Jeff Samardzija and Feldman taking up the first four. Sveum indicated Thursday that Scott Baker (elbow) wouldn't be ready for the season opener, so Carlos Villanueva and Travis Wood will try to lock up the last spot.
Description: Cubs manager Dale Sveum said that "there's an above average chance" right-hander Scott Baker won't be ready for Opening Day. SOURCE: Carrie Muskat, MLBlogs.com
Insight: Baker had Tommy John surgery last April when he was with the Twins. Including Baker, the Cubs have four pitchers that could fill the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, the other three being Carlos Villanueva, Travis Wood and Scott Feldman.
Description: Chicago Cubs right-hander Matt Garza (elbow) threw 30 pitches off a mound Monday with apparently no problems, according to a report by Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago.
Insight: Garza was just 5-7 last season before being shut down, but with solid numbers (3.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 96 strikeouts in 103 2/3 IP). He's an impending free agent at the end of the 2013 season, so his name could be in play at the trade deadline.
Description: The Cubs have reportedly signed outfielder Scott Hairston to a two-year contract. SOURCE: Ken Rosenthal, FOX Sports
Insight: Hairston wants to play everyday after playing a career-high 134 games last season with the Mets and hitting 20 homers, also a career high. However, he will probably have to split games with Nate Schierholtz in right field unless left fielder Alfonso Soriano is traded. Chicago also has retained David DeJesus, who can split time in center field with prospect Brett Jackson but also has experienced as a corner outfielder.
Description: In addition to Edwin Jackson, the Chicago Cubs have signed former Blue Jays righty Carlos Villanueva to a two-year contract worth $10 million. SOURCE: Jon Heyman, CBSSports.com
Insight: Villanueva pitched out of the bullpen at the start of last season but joined the rotation in late June. He went 5-4 with a 3.03 ERA in his first 11 starts but tired down the stretch and went 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA in September. He should have an easier time in the National League and will have some mixed league value if he starts.
Description: The Cubs have reportedly signed right-hander Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52 million contract. SOURCE: Patrick Mooney, CSNChicago.com
Insight: After getting snubbed by Anibal Sanchez, Chicago was able to lock down another veteran right-hander. Jackson went 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 189 2/3 innings but he carried a 3.53 ERA into September before giving up 22 earned runs in 25 innings in the month. Jackson finally has a long-term home after pitching for seven teams in 10 years.
Description: Jon Morosi from Fox Sports believes that the Cubs will look to deal outfielder Alfonso Soriano at the upcoming Winter Meetings.
Insight: The outfielder already mentioned that he'd be open to a trade earlier this offseason. Soriano would have to waive his no-trade clause in order for a deal to happen but he probably would if the right team came around. Soriano is costing Chicago a lot of money and he doesn't fit Theo Epstein's plan to rebuild the struggling franchise. He's already been traded twice in his career so changing cities is nothing new for the 36-year-old.
Description: The Cubs designated first baseman Bryan LaHair for assignment on Tuesday.
Insight: LaHair had a miserable second half (.202, 2 HR, 10 RBI) and eventually lost his starting gig to up-and-coming first baseman Anthony Rizzo (.285, 15 HR, 48 RBI). We need to see where LaHair ends up first before we can properly evaluate his fantay value heading into 2013.
Description: Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol is not going to the Angels after all. The reported Dan Haren for Marmol deal has been pulled off the table by the Cubs, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.
Insight: The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier Friday that Marmol had been traded for Haren but the deal has fallen apart. There's no indication of whether Chicago will continue to explore a trade for Haren but Marmol has shown that he's willing to waive his no-trade clause.
Description: Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro is just 2-for-12 in his career against Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin.
Insight: Castro's average (.283) has slipped a bit but the power numbers he has produced this year are the best of his career (14 HR, 77 RBI). He's also a stolen base threat with a career-best 25 thefts this season. Unfortunately, all of that goes out the window with Chacin (2-5, 4.73 ERA) on the mound. Thursday won't be a big day for the two-time All-Star.
Description: Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano has an extensive history of success against Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse. Soriano will try to improve upon his .360 (18-for-50) career average against Lohse when the two face off Sunday.
Insight: Soriano already has 30 homers for the first time since 2007 and 100 RBIs for the first time since 2005. Sunday should be another good day for him.
Description: Cubs outfielder David DeJesus is 7-for-15 with a triple, a homer, two RBIs and five runs scores in his last three games and he has another favorable matchup Sunday against Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse.
Insight: DeJesus carries a .478 average (11-for-23) with one homer and four RBIs into Sunday's matchup with Lohse. Ride the hot streak.
Description: Coming off a four-hit day Friday, Cubs outfielder David DeJesus has another good matchup Saturday against St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright.
Insight: DeJesus is 6-for-10 over his last two games and he has a .421 career average (8-for-19) with three doubles, a triple and a homer against Wainwright. Saturday is as good a day as any to get DeJesus in your fantasy lineup.
Description: Cubs first baseman/right fielder Bryan LaHair is 5-for-8 with a home run against Reds right-hander Homer Bailey.
Insight: After a fantasy-worthy first half (.286, 14 HR, 30 RBI), LaHair has become a non-factor. The arrival of youngster Anthony Rizzo to take over first base and a nose dive in LaHair's batting average (.187 since the break) have him sitting on fantasy benchs or released. If you still have him on your roster, today is the day to play him.
Description: Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo slugged a couple of homers Sunday in a loss to Pittsburgh.
Insight: Rizzo (.300, 14 HRs, 43 RBIs) had six RBIs in the game and now has driven in nine runs over his last three appearances. The Cubs' first baseman of the future has arrived, folks. It's time for fantasy owners to get on board with the talented 23-year-old.
Description: Cubs outfielder David DeJesus is on the bench for Monday's series opener in Houston.
Insight: DeJesus (.264, 7 HR, 45 RBI) has played well against the Astros this season (.407 average in 27 at bats) so he should be back in the lineup tomorrow. We could even see him come in as a pinch-hitter later on tonight.
Description: According to the Chicago Sun Times, the Cubs will shut down starter Jeff Samardzija after his start Saturday.
Insight: Samardzija (8-13, 3.91 ERA) has been brilliant since he allowed nine runs in a start on June 27. Since then, the right-hander is 3-6 but he has a 2.64 ERA and an 86/21 K/BB in 78 1/3 innings. Fantasy owners will miss Samardzija's strikeout potential.
Description: Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo is heating up, collecting 13 hits in his last 32 at-bats.
Insight: Rizzo has homered in each of the last two games and three times in his last seven. His second big league season has gone much better than his first -- Rizzo is batting .298 with 12 homers and 33 RBIs in 64 games.
Description: Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro is hitting only .100 for his career against Washington righthander Jordan Zimmerman.
Insight: Castro has struggled offensively for most of the second half (.251 average in 199 post All-Star at bats) and doesn't appear to be a smart play Thursday with Zimmerman (9-8, 3.01 ERA) set to start for the Nationals.
Description: According to the Cubs' official website, the team will discuss shutting down starter Jeff Samardzija for the season when it returns home Sept. 13.
Insight: Samardzija (8-13, 3.91 ERA) has been brilliant since he allowed nine runs in a start on June 27. Since then, the right-hander is 3-6 but he has a 2.64 ERA and an 86/21 K/BB in 78 1/3 innings. In fact, if you remove Samardzija's June 27 start and a start earlier that month when he gave up eight runs, the starter's ERA drops to 3.14.
Description: Cubs first baseman/right fielder Bryan LaHair is hitless in seven at-bats against Nationals starter Edwin Jackson.
Insight: After a fantasy-worthy first half (.286, 14 HR, 30 RBI), LaHair has become a non-factor. The arrival of youngster Anthony Rizzo to take over first base and a nose dive in LaHair's batting average have him primarily as a bench player in the Cubs rotation. He's gotten just 81 at-bats after the All-Star break and is batting .173 in that span.
Description: Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano swatted his 24th home run of the season Friday in a win over the Giants.
Insight: Soriano (.261, 24 HR, 82 RBI) has had a nice bounceback year after struggling to a .244/ 26 HR/ 88 RBI campaign in 2011. With just 18 more RBI, Soriano will reach 100 RBI in a season for the first time since 2005.
Description: Don't count on Alfonso Soriano to have a productive afternoon Thursday against the Brewers. The Cubs outfielder enters Thursday with a .182 lifetime average versus Milwaukee starter Shaun Marcum.
Insight: It's been a quiet month for Soriano offensively (.205 average in 88 at bats). We'd expect that trend to continue on Thursday.
Description: Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro is 1-for-10 in his career against Rockies righthander Jhoulys Chacin.
Insight: Castro has slumped to a .237 average in the second half but he's still one of fantasy's more consistent contributors at shortstop. Still, you might want to sit him today against Chacin (1-3, 6.16 ERA).
Description: Cubs outfielder David DeJesus doubled his season home run total with a pair of round-trippers Wednesday against Houston.
Insight: The very uncharacteristic power explosion came as part of a 4-for-4 day for DeJesus, who is now hitting .270 for the year with 33 RBI. Wednesday was DeJesus' first multi-home run game since August 6th of last year.
Description: Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney is not in the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against Houston.
Insight: The 26-year-old has improved on last season's numbers, but is still not a fantasy-worthy starting second baseman. He's batting .269, with five homers, 31 RBI and a .699 OPS. His OPS has risen in each season, so there is still hope that down the road he will have fantasy value.
Description: Cubs manager Dale Sveum went on WGN Radio Tuesday and said he would be "surprised if he pitches again this season."
Insight: Garza (5-7, 3.91 ERA) left his start July 21 with cramping in his triceps. It was then determined that he had a stress reaction in his elbow. Sveum didn't rule out a return for Garza this season, but he said he's going to be tough with less than 50 games left.
Description: Chicago outfielder Alfonso Soriano is 5-for-9 against Houston starter Armando Galarraga, with four extra base hits, including three home runs.
Insight: Soriano has been a surprising source of homers and RBIs in 2012, but he's in the middle of a cold streak, batting just .171 over the past 11 games. Facing Galarraga may be just the thing to snap him out of it.
Description: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is just 2-for-14 (.143) against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo.
Insight: Castro is a career .296 hitter, but struggling of late batting just .208 over the past two weeks. He's been a shell of the hitter we have come to know and this unfavorable matchup should be avoided.
Description: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has hit a wall in the last three months after putting up a .317 average, four homers, 32 RBIs and 15 steals over the first two months, but he has a favorable matchup Thursday against Reds starter Mike Leake.
Insight: Castro is 8-for-22 (.364) with two doubles, a triple and two RBIs in his career against Leake. He is hitting just .234 with 40 strikeouts in his last 59 games and .045 (1-for-22) in his last six, but he is still one of the better SS options due to the shallow nature of the position.
Description: Chicago outfielder Alfonso Soriano was scratched from the lineup Tuesday because his right hand is still swollen after getting spiked running the bases Monday, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
Insight: Soriano is considered day-to-day. The left fielder has had a bounce-back season, increasing his batting average by 26 points, his OBP by 32 points and his slugging percentage by 23 points.
Description: Chicago outfielder David DeJesus is not in the starting lineup Monday night against the Padres.
Insight: DeJesus (.262, 2 HR, 27 RBI) broke an 0-for-14 skid with a single Sunday against the Dodgers. With DeJesus on the sidelines, Brett Jackson (.500, 0 HR, 0 RBI) will draw the start in center field for the Cubs.
Description: Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune believes Cubs starter Matt Garza will be placed on the disabled list because of a sore triceps.
Insight: Garza (5-7, 3.91 ERA) had been hoping to return to the rotation Tuesday in San Diego but after stiffening up during a recent bullpen session, that's no longer a possibility. He'll be reexamined on Monday.
Description: In addition to outfield prospect Brett Jackson, the Cubs will also promote third base prospect Josh Vitters to the majors Sunday.
Insight: Vitters, a former first-round pick, hit .304 with 17 homers and 68 RBIs with Triple-A Iowa this season. Jackson has more upside due to his speed, but Vitters should be added in NL-only leagues.
Description: Chicago Cubs outfield prospect Brett Jackson will be called up to the big leagues Sunday.
Insight: Jackson's batting average has declined each year since he hit .318 in his first year in the minors, settling at .256 this season, but he does have 49 extra-base hits (22 2Bs, 12 3Bs, 15 HRs) and 27 steals. Owners in deeper leagues can give him a shot.
Description: Cubs excellent shortstop Starlin Castro is hitless in 10 career at-bats against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw with four strikeouts.
Insight: Castro isn't hitting up to the standards he set in his first two seasons, though his .282 batting average, 11 HR, 52 RBI and 16 SB still have him among the top fantasy shortstops. Sit him on Saturday.
Description: Even if Cubs starter Matt Garza (triceps) is placed on the 15-day disabled list, he is still expected to rejoin the rotation next Tuesday.
Insight: Garza's minor triceps injury likely kept him in Chicago as potential trade suitors backed off of the right-hander. He hasn't pitched since July 21, so next Tuesday would make more than 15 days in between starts. The Cubs may choose to place Garza on the DL Wednesday so they can call up an extra player for a few days.
Description: Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano is someone to sit Tuesday if you have better options. Soriano is 3-for-15 (.200) with zero RBIs and seven strikeouts in his career against Pirates starter A.J. Burnett.
Insight: Soriano (.274, 19 HR, 61 RBI) is having his best season since 2008, but he will likely have a down night Tuesday against the Pirates.
Description: Chicago Cubs outfield prospect Brett Jackson was pulled from the game with Triple-A Iowa Monday, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
Insight: Jackson will likely be promoted on the heels of several trades by the big league club. The outfielder's batting average has slipped to .255 this season, but he has 20 doubles, 11 triples, 15 homers and 24 steals this season so he's someone to target in deeper mixed leagues.
Description: Chicago first baseman/right fielder Bryan LaHair won't be on the field Monday night against the Pirates.
Insight: LaHair (.267, 14 HRs, 31 RBIs) has struggled to a .154 average in 39 at bats since his trip to Kansas City for the MLB All-Star Game earlier in the month. He's hitless in his last 19 trips to the plate (0-for-17, two walks).
Description: Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano should be in all fantasy lineups Monday against the Pirates. Soriano is 6-for-11 (.545) with three doubles, one home run, three RBIs, three walks and just one strikeouts against the Pirates lefty.
Insight: Soriano (.274, 19 HR, 61 RBI) is having his best season since 2008 and should continue his success Monday.
Description: Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has hit three homers in his last four games, including his first career walk-off blast Sunday.
Insight: Rizzo (.333, 7 HR, 17 RBIs) cooled off a bit after a hot start after he was called up at the end of June, but he is heating up again with seven hits in his last 15 at-bats. The first baseman should be owned in all formats.
Description: It appears teams are no longer interested in trading for Cubs righthander Matt Garza now that a triceps injury will prevent him from pitching until after the trade deadline.
Insight: Garza (5-7, 3.91 ERA) probably would have benefited from more run support had he been traded to a contender but it looks like he's stuck in Chicago. An MRI showed only a small amount of fluid in Garza's triceps but he's still not expected to start again until late next week.
Description: The Cubs and Dodgers are making progress in trade talks for starting pitcher Ryan Dempster.
Insight: Chicago had agreed to a trade that would send Dempster to Atlanta earlier in the week but that fell through after Dempster exercised his 10/5 rights to veto the deal. Dempster (5-5, 2.25 ERA) has said that the Dodgers are the only team he wants to play for other than the Cubs so all indications are that both sides will do what they can to make this trade happen before Tuesday's deadline.
Description: Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo homered Wednesday for the first time since July 6.
Insight: Rizzo (.323, 5 HR, 12 RBIs) burst on the scene with four homers and nine RBIs in his first 10 games, but he's cooled as of late, going 5-for-26 (.192) with zero RBIs in his previous seven games. Despite the cold streak, Rizzo's first 93 at-bats this season have gone a lot better than the 128 he had during his rookie year.
Description: Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija one-hit the Pirates over eight shutout innings Monday to improve to 7-8. The victory was only Samardzija's second since May 29.
Insight: Samardzija (7-8, 4.25) is still looking to undo the damage he did to his ERA when he allowed 25 runs in 18 1/3 innings in a four start stretch in June. The right-hander has given up just five earned runs on 18 hits while posting a 29/7 K/BB in 27 innings over his last five starts, so he appears to have figured things out again.
Description: Chicago outfielder Alfonso Soriano is 5-for-8 (.625) in his career against Pirates hurler Erik Bedard with three extra base hits and a 1.917 OPS.
Insight: After going to a lighter bat, Soriano produced solid statistics in May and June (.287, 15 HR, 35 RBI). July hasn't been as productive as he's batted .246 with three homers and a .729 OPS. Perhaps this favorable matchup will get him started again.
Description: Cubs starter Travis Wood has allowed 14 earned runs on 17 hits in 10 2/3 innings over his last two starts.
Insight: Wood won four straight starts from June 19 to July 6 but he's slipped up in his past two outings. The lefty doesn't have much upside and shouldn't be owned outside of the deepest of mixed leagues.
Description: Cubs starter Matt Garza left Saturday's start after three innings, leading to speculation that he'd been traded. However, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com is reporting that Garza exited due to injury.
Insight: The nature of the injury is unknown, but hopefully the Cubs are just being cautious with one of their top trade chips.
Description: Chicago outfielder Alfonso Soriano is just 3-for-27 (.111) in his career against Cardinals right-hander Jake Westbrook.
Insight: After going to a lighter bat, Soriano has produced solid power numbers with 18 HR and 43 RBI in his last 65 games. The former 40-40 man has become relevant in the fantasy world again, but probably not on Saturday.
Description: Chicago outfielder Alfonso Soriano came in hitting .170 in 40 career at bats against Mark Buehrle but he managed to hit a solo homer off the lefty Thursday.
Insight: Soriano has been surprisingly useful as a third outfielder in mixed leagues this season, hitting 18 homers with 54 RBIs. While that .274 average seems a little high for the free-swinger, he should continue to provide solid power and run production.
Description: Cubs starter Paul Maholm tossed eight innings of five-hit, one-run ball Thursday against the Marlins to pick up his eighth victory of the season.
Insight: Maholm is 4-0 with a microscopic 0.92 ERA in his last four starts, but we aren't buying him as a fantasy option in mixed leagues just yet. The lefty had a similar stretch earlier in the year when he went 4-0 with a 1.07 ERA from April 21 to May 9 but he followed that up with a 6.43 ERA over his next eight starts. This should be revealed as a mirage soon enough.
Description: Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair will get the afternoon off Thursday against the Marlins.
Insight: LaHair has been playing mostly right field since Chicago decided to call up Anthony Rizzo (.338, 4 HRs, 10 RBIs) from Triple-A Iowa. LaHair opened the season on a tear (.390, 5 HRs, 14 RBIs in April), but since May he's hitting just .241 with 9 HRs and 17 RBIs.
Description: Chicago outfielder Alfonso Soriano is a career .125 hitter (2-for-16) versus Miami ace Josh Johnson.
Insight: Soriano has produced very good numbers in 2012, well above preseason expectations. He's batting .271 with 17 HR and 53 RBI in 83 games. This could end up being his best season since coming to the Cubs in 2007, but Wednesday is an unfavorable matchup.
Description: Cubs starter Travis Wood is just 4-3 this season, but he's been very good in his last four outings - all wins.
Insight: In Wood's last four starts, he's got a 1.01 ERA and 0.975 WHIP. He's only faced Miami once in his career with poor results, but that was in April 2011. He's a different pitcher now and on a roll. If you need a replacement starter due to injuries, Wood is a very nice option.
Description: Cubs starter Matt Garza shut out Arizona on five hits in seven innings Sunday to improve to 5-7.
Insight: Garza (5-7, 4.02 ERA) has drawn plenty of trade interest, but it isn't certain if the Cubs will deal him prior to the deadline. Considering the right-hander is 15-17 in 48 starts with Chicago over the last two seasons despite carrying a 3.44 ERA in that span, it would be better for fantasy owners if he could hook up with a contender.
Description: Chicago first baseman Bryan LaHair is not in the starting lineup for Saturday's game against Arizona due to a strained left groin injury.
Insight: In his first full season, LaHair is putting up solid statistics - .281, 14 HR, 31 RBI. With rookie Anthony Rizzo playing well since being called up, it appears that LaHair will become an everyday outfielder.
Description: Chicago outfielder Alfonso Soriano had a monster game Friday against the Diamondbacks. He finished the day with four hits and five RBIs.
Insight: All four hits went for extra bases including a pair of homers. It was Soriano's second multi home run game of the season. He now has 17 long balls for the season, an astounding feat considering that he didn't hit any during the season's first month.
Description: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro ended the first half with a two-hit game, including his seventh homer of the season, Sunday against the Mets.
Insight: After batting over .300 in each of the first two months, Castro hit .264 in June and has started off 6-for-29 in July. He's also stopped running after stealing 10 bases in April. Hopefully he can get back on track once the second half starts.
Description: Cubs starter Ryan Dempster extended his scoreless innings streak to 27 with five shutout frames against the Mets Sunday in his return from the disabled list.
Insight: Dempster (4-3, 1.99) was on an 80-pitch limit but the Cubs removed him after 63. He should be good to go full throttle for the second half, though he likely won't be making too many more starts with Chicago before he's traded.
Description: Cubs starter Ryan Dempster will return from the disabled list to start Sunday against the Mets, according to the team's official website.
Insight: Dempster will replace Chris Volstad in the rotation. The right-hander is working on a 22-inning scoreless streak, but he will be on an 80-pitch limit Sunday so don't expect him to work deep into the game.
Description: Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija had his second straight strong start Saturday against the Mets, hurling seven innings of three-run ball. Samardzija allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out four in a losing effort.
Insight: Samardzija (6-8, 4.71) ends an up-and-down first half on a high note despite the loss. The right-hander was 5-3 with a 3.09 ERA going into June, but went 0-4 with a 10.41 ERA and 2.06 WHIP in five June starts to undo what he accomplished the first two months. Samardzija averages 95.1 mph with his fastball, third best in baseball among SP according to FanGraphs, and he also has a stellar 8.9 K/9, so he may be in for a strong second half.
Description: Cubs starter Ryan Dempster (lat) is hoping to return Sunday, Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago reports.
Insight: Dempster threw another bullpen session Wednesday. His return for Sunday's start is not considered imminent, but Dempster will try to convince the Cubs coaching staff that he is healthy enough to go if he feels good tomorrow.
Description: We told you not to start Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija on Monday but hopefully you ignored us. Samardzija was brilliant against the Braves on Monday, allowing just four hits and one run over seven strong innings. He walked one and struck out 11.
Insight: We certainly weren't expecting this kind of outing from Samardzija (6-7, 4.77 ERA) after losing four in a row but for whatever reason he was outstanding on Monday. Maybe it's just a fluke but remember, Samardzija actually pitched pretty well during the season's first two months (5-3, 3.09) so he might be worth keeping an eye on when he makes his next start Saturday against the Mets.
Description: Chicago outfielder David DeJesus will have the night off Monday while he recovers from a sore neck.
Insight: DeJesus (.269, 2 HRs, 21 RBIs) had a number of productive games last week, the highlight being a 4-5 performance against the Diamondbacks on June 23. DeJesus' neck injury doesn't appear to be a serious one so for now, consider the Cubs outfielder day-to-day.
Description: Cubs starter Travis Wood pitched his second straight scoreless outing Sunday to pick up his third straight win.
Insight: Wood (3-3, 3.05 ERA) held Houston scoreless on three hits in 7 2/3 innings Sunday. The left-hander has thrown a quality start in five of his last six turns, including four straight. While it's doubtful he'll maintain this level of success, he's worth an add on the off chance he does keep it up.
Description: Chicago outfielder Alfonso Soriano will get a rest Sunday as the Cubs take on the Astros in the final game of a three-game set.
Insight: Soriano (.273, 15 HRs, 46 RBIs) is on pace to finish the year with 32 HRs and 97 RBIs, his highest combined home run and RBI totals since 2005 when he bashed 36 homers and 104 RBIs for the Texas Rangers.
Description: Chicago first baseman Bryan LaHair will watch Sunday's game against Houston from the sidelines.
Insight: LaHair's name has been floating around in trade rumors ever since Anthony Rizzo was called up from Triple-A. The one good thing to come from Rizzo's promotion is that LaHair (.284, 13 HRs, 28 RBIs) is close to gaining outfield eligibility now that Rizzo plays first most nights.
Description: Chicago outfielder David DeJesus will take a seat Sunday for the Cubs' series finale against Houston.
Insight: DeJesus really doesn't have much fantasy significance aside from his .269 batting average, and even that's nothing to brag about. You could probably go ahead and leave DeJesus on the waiver wire for now.
Description: Cubs starter Paul Maholm shut out Houston on four hits over 8 1/3 innings Friday afternoon.
Insight: Houston's offense is 21st in baseball in batting average and 22nd in on base percentage, so shutting them down doesn't mean Maholm (5-6, 4.84) is suddenly a viable fantasy starter. More often than not, Maholm is not going to toss a quality start, so stay away from him in fantasy leagues.
Description: According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Dodgers are viewed as the favorite to acquire Ryan Dempster (lat) once he returns from the disabled list.
Insight: As we mentioned in a column two weeks ago, Los Angeles is the most attractive landing spot for Dempster. He'll stay in the NL and jump to a contending club with a pitcher-friendly home ballpark if he's traded there.
Description: Cubs righthander Randy Wells has been sent down to Triple-A Iowa two days after he was designated for assignment.
Insight: Wells' stint in the Chicago starting rotation was a short and unsuccessful one. He returns to the minor leagues with a 1-2 record and a 5.34 ERA in 12 appearances with the big club this season.
Description: It's unlikely that Chicago starter Ryan Dempster will be able to return from his lat injury before the All-Star break.
Insight: Dempster's inactivity in recent weeks is preventing the Cubs from making a deal for him. Once he's healthy again, he should regain his status as one of the hottest trade chips on the market leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Description: Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija has had his season come undone in his last four starts. Samardzija's struggles continued Wednesday when he gave up nine runs on six hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings.
Insight: Coming into June, Samardzija looked like one of the bright young starters in baseball. This latest debacle has raised his ERA to 5.05 -- it was at 3.13 less than a month ago before he allowed 25 runs in 18 1/3 innings over his last four starts.
Description: Cubs first base prospect Anthony Rizzo has been called up from Triple-A Iowa.
Insight: Rizzo will assume the starting first base job in Chicago. He's hitting third in Tuesday's lineup after hitting .345 with 23 homers and 62 RBIs in 69 games at Triple-A this season. Though Rizzo hit .141 with one homer in 49 games with San Diego last season, he appears to be a different hitter this season. Plus, Wrigley Field is 368 feet in right-center field, as opposed to 382 feet in right field and 400 feet in the right-field power alley in Petco Park.
Description: Chicago first baseman Bryan LaHair will not start Monday night's game against the Mets.
Insight: LaHair (.286, 13 HRs, 28 RBIs) is in a difficult position now that stud first base prospect Anthony Rizzo (.342, 23 HRs, 62 RBIs in 70 games for Triple-A Iowa) is set to make his season debut on Tuesday. LaHair may have to move to the outfield or split time with Rizzo at first base, which would greatly reduce his fantasy value.
Description: The Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, Red Sox, Royals and Tigers are among the teams interested in trading for Cubs starter Matt Garza.
Insight: Garza allowed three runs and five hits over seven innings Sunday in a loss to the Diamondbacks. For the season, Garza is 3-6 with a 4.06 ERA in 14 starts. Garza is also the owner of an impressive .221 BAA and a 1.09 WHIP.
Description: Cubs rightfielder David DeJesus is just 4-for-22 (.182) with a four of strikeouts in his career against Arizona lefty Joe Saunders.
Insight: Dejesus has been the Cubs everyday right fielder, but his fantasy value is limited by a lack of power (2 HR) and speed (2 SB). He's batting .261 this season with 36 runs scored and 21 RBI, but is understandably not valued highly in fantasy leagues. If you have been using him on a temporary basis, sit him today.
Description: Cubs starter Travis Wood won his first game with the team Tuesday against the White Sox. Wood allowed one earned run on four hits in six innings while walking four and striking out five.
Insight: Wood (1-3, 4.14) has delivered a solid line in six of his seven starts this season, with the lone exception being a six-run effort against San Diego on May 28. Those with pitching needs can give the lefty a shot, though he won't win many games with the lowly Cubs.
Description: Chicago righthander Randy Wells will get the start for the Cubs Wednesday against the White Sox. He's filling in for Ryan Dempster, who just went on the disabled list with right lat tightness.
Insight: It's just Wells' third start of the season. Even if he pitches well in Dempster's place over the next couple of weeks, we doubt Wells will have any lasting fantasy impact. He's 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 appearances this year.
Description: Chicago first baseman Bryan LaHair is starting in right field Monday in the Cubs' series opener against the White Sox.
Insight: LaHair started nine games in right for the Cubs last season but this will be his first start there this season. LaHair could find himself playing the outfield a lot more often if the team decides to call up first base prospect Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo has hit .364 with 23 HRs and 59 RBIs in 63 games for Triple-A Iowa this season.
Description: Cubs catcher Geovany Soto has been activated from the 15-day DL. Soto was out for a month with a partially torn meniscus in his left knee. He's starting at catcher and batting eighth Monday night against the White Sox.
Insight: Soto's return probably won't have much impact on the fantasy scene: he's owned in just 13.5 percent of fantasy leagues heading into today's action.
Description: Cubs starter Ryan Dempster has been placed on the disabled list with tightness in right lat muscle.
Insight: Dempster, increasingly part of trade conversations, will miss the next two weeks, likely slowing down most trade talks. He's 3-3 with a stellar 2.11 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. We suspect as soon as he returns and shows he's healthy, the phones will light up again.
Description: While Cubs starter Matt Garza is 0-2 in his last three starts, he's not been pitching that badly. Over the three-game span he gave up three runs or less in each six inning stint with a 1.000 WHIP and 17 strikeouts.
Insight: Garza could also be auditioning for the Yankees and other teams who are seeking pitching help before the trade deadline. He'll be opposed by Zach Stewart for the White Sox making his first start of the season. Garza could be a nice fantasy option today as long as he pitches around Paul Konerko who is a career .500 hitter against him.
Description: Nick Cafardo from the Boston Globe has hinted that the Dodgers and Blue Jays are emerging as the favorites to land Cubs starter Ryan Dempster at this year's trade deadline.
Insight: Dempster's fantasy owners should be rooting for a trade. As phenomenal as Dempster has been this season (2.11 ERA and .201 BAA in 12 starts), he's hardly getting any run support and has won just three times pitching for the Cubs in 2012. He hasn't allowed a run in his last three starts, so Dempster's trade value has never been higher than it is right now.
Description: The Cubs have gone full circle and promoted Carlos Marmol back to the closer role.
Insight: Marmol (5.79 ERA) saved Friday's game, but not before Boston loaded the bases with a walk, a hit and an error. Owning Marmol is not for those with a weak stomach, but make the add if you need saves.
Description: Cubs starter Ryan Dempster shut out Boston over seven four-hit innings Friday afternoon to improve to 3-3.
Insight: Dempster has won three straight starts without allowing a run in 22 straight innings. Dempster will most likely be traded at some point prior to July 31. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times said Friday that Dempster is coveted by several contenders, inlcuding the Dodgers and Yankees.
Description: Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano's change to a lighter bat has played a significant role in his return to fantasy relavence.
Insight: Soriano is batting .318 over the past 28 days with 10 homers, 21 RBI and a 1.109 OPS. He's still available in almost 40-percent of all Yahoo leagues. If he's out there in yours, you should consider making a claim.
Description: Cubs first base prospect Anthony Rizzo is considered day-to-day with a right knee contusion.
Insight: Rizzo was hurt when he slid into a dugout fence attempting to make a catch. Chicago has been taking its time with Rizzo despite his 22 homers, 57 RBIs, and a ridiculous .370/.430/.753 slash at Triple-A Iowa. You have to assume that this injury will keep Rizzo out of the big leagues a little longer even though it isn't very serious.
Description: Cubs first base prospect Anthony Rizzo left Tuesday game with Triple-A Iowa after injuring his left attempting to make a sliding catch into a dugout fence.
Insight: Chicago has been taking its time with Rizzo despite his 22 homers, 57 RBIs, and a ridiculous .370/.430/.753 slash at Triple-A Iowa. You have to assume that this injury, no matter how serious, will keep Rizzo out of the big leagues a little longer.
Description: First baseman Bryan LaHair is not in the starting lineup for Sunday afternoon's game with the Twins.
Insight: With LaHair (.310, 12 HRs, 25 RBIs) sidelined, Jeff Baker (.250, 1 HR, 6 RBIs) will get his 15th start of the year at first base today. He'll be going up against Minnesota lefthander Francisco Liriano (1-6, 6.46 ERA).
Description: Cubs first base prospect Anthony Rizzo is leading the Pacific Coast League with 17 homers.
Insight: The former Red Sox and Padres prospect is slugging .715, also first in the PCL. He's getting on base at a .425 clip and batting .363 in 52 games for Triple-A Iowa. It's only a matter of time before the Cubs give Rizzo a major shot in the big leagues, and when that happens he'll be an intriguing player in mixed leagues.
Description: Cubs starter Ryan Dempster finally picked up his first win of the season on Tuesday against Milwaukee. Dempster allowed just three hits and walked none in seven shutout innings to improve to 1-3.
Insight: It took Dempster 10 starts to get his first victory despite a 2.59 ERA this season. He should continue to provide solid ratios for fantasy owners but don't expect him to suddenly reel off a ton of wins now that he's got one.
Description: The Cubs purchased the contract of right-hander Manuel Corpas from Triple-A Iowa.
Insight: Corpas posted a 4.01 ERA in 3 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season. He saved 19 games with a 2.08 ERA in 2007 with Colorado, so there's a chance he gets a shot to close eventually with the Cubs given the current state of Chicago's bullpen.
Description: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is in the Cubs' starting lineup Tuesday.
Insight: Cubs manager Dale Sveum threatened to bench Castro after the 22-year-old forgot how many outs there were on a potential double-play ball. Hopefully Castro proves that he doesn't need a wake-up call from Sveum. He can start by snapping his 0-for-11 slump tonight.
Description: Cubs manager Dale Sveum threatened to bench star shortstop Starlin Castro if he doesn't start to improve his focus.
Insight: Castro forgot how many outs there were and let the tying run come around to score in Chicago's loss to the Giants on Monday. He also went 0-4 at the plate and is now zero for his last 11. Despite the recent slump, Castro has had a very good year, leading the Cubs in hits (67), RBIs (32) and stolen bases (15).
Description: Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano will face Barry Zito on Sunday and that's never good for Soriano's fantasy stats. He's 7-44 (.159) against the former Cy Young winner.
Insight: Zito's looping curve ball has made a lot of hitters swing and miss over the years but Soriano (.267, 8 HRs, 31 RBIs) has swung and missed more than most. He's whiffed 14 times against the Giants lefthander.
Description: Cubs center fielder Tony Campana went 2-for-4 with two stolen bases against the Giants on Saturday.
Insight: Campana truly is a one-trick pony. The outfielder has swiped 18 bases in 20 attempts despite starting just 23 games this season. He does have a .305 batting average, but he hasn't hit a homer and he has just four RBIs.
Description: According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, among the starting pitchers rumored to be available, the New York Yankees prefer Matt Garza.
Insight: Heyman said that Yankees people like that Garza is battle-tested against American League East opponents after spending several years with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Cubs prefer to try to lock up Garza long term, but previous negotiations haven't gone well. There's no guarantee that Garza's fantasy value would receive a boost if he ends up on New York. While he may win more games, his ERA may rise and his strikeouts may decline as he moves from the National League to the American League.
Description: Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair went 1-for-30 from May 16-25, but he's rebounded to collect five hits in his last 13 at-bats.
Insight: LaHair hit .390 in April but he was due for a major correction due to a sky-high BABIP. He still is hitting .398 on balls in play, so his average should fall some more, but since this has seemingly been the norm for LaHair in his career -- he's never posted a BABIP lower than .327 in any professional season -- the fall may not be that dramatic.
Description: On Tuesday, Cubs lefty reliever James Russell received and converted the first save opportunity since Rafael Dolis was demoted to middle relief.
Insight: Russell will split save opportunities with Shawn Camp. Camp threw the eighth and picked up one out in the ninth before Russell was brought in to face lefty batter John Baker and switch hitter Everth Cabrera. The LHP has a 1.61 ERA this season, but his 10 walks in 22 innings suggest that number will rise. Don't count out Carlos Marmol from reassuming the closer role after being activated from the disabled list yesterday.
Description: Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair is not in the starting lineup for Tuesday's game against San Diego.
Insight: LaHair has been very good this season (.312, 10 HR, 22 RBI), but he's just 3-for-22 against lefthanders with a .569 OPS. If this trend doesn't change, LaHair could end up in a platoon situation.
Description: Carlos Marmol has been activated from the disabled list. He had been out since May 11th with a hamstring injury.
Insight: Marmol (6.35 ERA) lost his closer's job at the start of the month and he still hasn't won it back yet. Expect Marmol to be limited to a middle relief role upon his return, meaning that his fantasy value is almost nonexistent right now.
Description: Rafael Dolis has officially been removed from his position as the team's closer.
Insight: Dolis has blown two of his six save chances this season and he has allowed at least one run in each of his last four appearances. Shawn Camp and James Russell will both be called upon for saves until manager Dale Sveum comes up with a more permanent ninth inning solution.
c [an error occurred while processing this directive], WLOS-TV | Portions are Copyright [an error occurred while processing this directive] Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]