Cubs escape rain, start four-game set in Arizona

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Cubs escape rain, start four-game set in Arizona

Thursday, April 28, 2011Posted: 10:25 a.m.

Associated Press

The Chicago Cubs are glad to be headed to some warm weather, but their next opponent could be difficult for Ryan Dempster.

The struggling Dempster has a poor history as a starter against the Arizona Diamondbacks heading into Thursday night's opener of a four-game series at Chase Field.

Chicago (10-13) just completed a homestand that was scheduled for 10 games. Only eight were played after two weather-related postponements, including Wednesday's finale of a three-game set against Colorado. The Cubs, losers of three straight, did not have one game rained out last season.

"We know the conditions are going to be better, you know what to expect in Arizona," manager Mike Quade said. "It can wear on you when you get 10 days of this kind of weather. We'd love to have the conditions we're going get (in Arizona) right here at home. Warm weather will not be frowned upon."

Quade opted to push Casey Coleman's start to Sunday to keep the rest of his rotation in line. That means Dempster (1-2, 7.63 ERA) will try to put aside both his recent woes and his problems against the Diamondbacks (10-13) on Thursday.

The right-hander allowed seven runs and nine hits over 5 2-3 innings Saturday and did not get a decision in a 10-8 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He surrendered three homers to bring his season total to eight in 30 2-3 innings.

"He's just not executing his pitches," Quade told the Cubs' official website.

Dempster is 2-7 with a 6.24 ERA in 14 career starts against Arizona. He yielded five runs over seven innings in a 6-4 loss April 6 at Wrigley Field - the Cubs' only loss in their last nine meetings with the Diamondbacks.

Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra is 5 for 8 against Dempster, and shortstop Stephen Drew is 4 for 8. Justin Upton has not joined in that success, going 2 for 15 off Dempster.

Arizona center fielder Chris Young hit two homers and drove in three runs in Wednesday's 8-4 home loss to Philadelphia. He's got six homers and 15 RBIs in 12 home games.

The Diamondbacks missed a chance to sweep the Phillies after Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson turned in strong starts in the first two games of the series. Joe Saunders allowed six runs over 5 2-3 innings Wednesday.

"You are not going to pitch good in every game," manager Kirk Gibson said. "Give them some credit. They put some good swings on us and hit good pitches as well."

For the opener of this series, Gibson will give the ball to Barry Enright (0-2, 6.65), who is 0-7 with a 7.40 ERA in his last nine starts. He gave up season highs of five runs and 12 hits over 5 2-3 innings Saturday in a 6-4 road loss to the New York Mets.

Enright is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts against the Cubs. The right-hander did not receive a decision in a 6-5 loss at Wrigley on April 5, when he yielded four runs over six innings.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

The Chris Sale trade had a major impact on the 2017 World Series odds

The Chris Sale trade had a major impact on the 2017 World Series odds

When the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Red Sox Tuesday, it shook up the balance of power around Major League Baseball.

Wednesday morning, that power shift was present in Bovada's 2017 World Series odds.

On Nov. 3 (the day after the World Series ended), the Cubs were the frontrunners for the 2017 World Series at 7/2 odds. The Boston Red Sox were right behind at 9/1.

After acquiring Sale, the Red Sox have now bumped up to 11/2 odds to win it all while the Cubs have gone down slightly to 15/4.

[Complete coverage of the White Sox-Red Sox Chris Sale blockbuster trade]

Here is the complete list of the Top 5 odds, as of Wednesday morning:

1. Cubs - 15/4
2. Red Sox - 11/2
3. Nationals - 9/1
4. Indians - 12/1
5. Astros - 12/1

The Cubs' odds may also see a boost if/when the Wade Davis trade becomes official.

On the other hand, the White Sox odds fell from 40/1 the day after the 2016 World Series to 66/1 Wednesday morning after dealing away Sale.

Of course, Sale is only one player, but it's more so the Sox trading him away is a clear indication they are not "going for it" in 2017 for the major decrease. If the Sox continue to sell, look for those odds to fall even further.

As of Wednesday morning, the Colorado Rockies (before they signed Ian Desmond to a five-year deal), Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres were the only teams with lower odds to win a championship in 2017 than the White Sox.

Cubs reportedly set to trade Jorge Soler to Royals for Wade Davis

Cubs reportedly set to trade Jorge Soler to Royals for Wade Davis

It appears as if the Cubs have answered two big questions surrounding Joe Maddon's team this winter.

With so many solid options in the fold to play everyday in the lineup, the Cubs now reportedly have one less guy to worry about in the outfield and one more pitcher to add into the late-inning mix.

USAToday's Bob Nightengale reported late Tuesday night the Cubs and Kansas City Royals had a deal in place with pitcher Wade Davis coming to Chicago and Jorge Soler acting as the return piece, though the deal was not official yet as of Wednesday morning.

[RELATED - Wade Davis trade would give Cubs a proven October closer]

As Nightengale also said, the Cubs gave up a lot for Davis, who will become a free agent after the 2017 season and was limited to only 43.1 innings in 2016 due to forearm issues:

Soler has struggled to stay healthy and cash in on his enormous potential during his two-plus years in the big leagues with the Cubs, but he is still young (he'll turn 25 in February) and won't become a free agent until after the 2020 season.

The main question with Soler entering 2017 was going to be where he would play — and how often — given Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Jon Jay and Albert Almora were already in the outfield mix and the anticipation Ben Zobrist would also see some time in the outfield with Javy Baez locking down second base.

It's no surprise to see Soler dealt this winter, but as David Kaplan said on Tuesday's CubsTalk podcast, Theo Epstein's front office is all about years of control, but if the deal goes through, they will have traded four years of control of a guy who was their top trade chip for only a year of control on a relief pitcher who has averaged only 61 innings per season the last three years.

However, if the 31-year-old Davis is truly the only return, he helps give the Cubs a boost in 2017.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

Davis — who spent the first four years of his big-league career pitching for Maddon in Tampa Bay — has emerged as one of the premier relief pitchers in baseball over the last three years.

In that span, Davis tallied a 19-4 record with 47 saves in 54 chances, a 1.18 ERA and sparkling 0.892 WHIP. He also struck out 234 batters in 182.2 innings while giving up just three homers. 

As the Cubs look to defend their first World Series title in more than a century, Davis would help shore up the bullpen and given his past experience, would figure to be able to pitch more than just the ninth inning come playoff time (if healthy). Davis would add another elite option alongside Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. in Maddon's remodeled bullpen.

Soler should benefit from a clear path to consistent playing time with the Royals, especially moving to the American League where he can slot in at designated hitter which may ultimately be his best position.