What to watch: Cubs vs. Giants

What to watch: Cubs vs. Giants
April 12, 2013, 12:30 am
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Tony Andracki

First pitch: 1:20 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet. (Cubs Pregame Live starts at 12:30 p.m. and Postgame Live immediately follows the game.)

On the mound: Carlos Villanueva (0-0, 1.35 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) vs. Matt Cain (0-1, 8.38 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)

Friday was supposed to be a matchup of two of the best, young right-handers in the game. But Wednesday's rainout pushed Jeff Samardzija back a day, meaning Villanueva slots in for Friday afternoon.

The Cubs signed Villanueva, 29, to a two-year, $10 million deal this winter to add starting rotation depth, which has obviously come in handy with the preseason injuries to Matt Garza and Scott Baker.

Villanueva had a great Cubs debut, allowing just one run in 6 2/3 innings against the Braves last weekend. He started 16 games last season and made 22 relief appearances for the Blue Jays, sporting a solid 4.16 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.

Cain has been one of MLB's best pitchers over the last seven seasons, making at least 31 starts every season since 2005. He's been a focal point of the Giants' two World Series championships the last three seasons, but is off to a rough start this year. In two starts spanning 9 2/3 innings, Cain has surrendered 11 hits, three walks and nine earned runs.

Today's storyline: How will the Cubs bounce back?

Three innings into Thursday's game, it looked like the Cubs were riding hot momentum into a win in the series opener. They had a 5-0 lead, Scott Feldman was dealing and things looked good.

Then the tides turned and the Giants scored seven unanswered runs in the fourth and fifth innings, four of which were unearned. Instead of an uplifting win, the Cubs suffered through a heart-breaking loss on a cold, damp day at Wrigley Field.

How will they bounce back? The Giants are going good right now and the Cubs will have to put Thursday's loss behind them to make the four-game series interesting.

What else to watch for

Garza will be back in a couple weeks and when he returns, who will get bumped from the rotation? Villanueva and Feldman are the most likely candidates and it could come down to performance. Feldman struggled to rise above fielding miscues in the series opener and another solid outing from Villanueva could give him the leg up in the competition.

The last word

The weather will always be a topic of discussion in Chicago, especially in April. Friday's forecast includes more frigid temperatures (a high of 48 degrees) and some more showers in the afternoon/evening. On the chance things do get worse and the game gets rained out, both teams share an off-day on Monday, making it the perfect day for a rain makeup.