What to watch: Cubs vs. Giants

What to watch: Cubs vs. Giants
April 11, 2013, 9:15 am
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Tony Andracki

First pitch: 1:20 p.m., Comcast SportsNet (Preceded by Cubs Pregame live beginning at 12:30 p.m. Cubs Postgame Live immediately follows the contest.)

On the mound: Scott Feldman (0-1, 7.71 ERA, 1.93 WHIP) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (0-1, 8.44 ERA, 2.06 WHIP)

With Wednesday night's rainout, manager Dale Sveum just pushed his rotation back one day, meaning Feldman will get the ball Thursday afternoon against the World Champs.

Feldman, 34, was brought in to help provide depth for the starting rotation and his Cubs career got off to a bit of a rough start last week in Atlanta. The 30-year-old righty couldn't make it out of the fifth inning, surrendering four runs on five hits and four walks to pick up the loss.

Instead of pitching against an injury-marred Brewers lineup, Feldman instead draws a lineup that has a knack for picking up timely hits. Buster Posey and the Giants exploded for 10 runs Wednesday against the Rockies.

[MORE: Everything's in front of Starlin Castro]

Vogelsong, 35, has had an interesting journey as a former fifth-round draft pick of the Giants in 1998 whose career flamed out in 2006. He went to Japan to pitch for a few seasons, before hopping on the comeback trail. In 2010, he signed on with the Angels and then the Phillies, appearing in 33 games for the two teams' Triple-A affiliates.

The veteran right-hander then re-signed with the Giants, earned a spot in the rotation and hasn't looked back since. He was an All-Star in 2011, with a 13-7 record, 2.71 ERA and 1.25 WHIP and finishing just outside the Top 10 in NL Cy Young voting. Last year, Vogelsong won 14 games with a 3.37 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 31 starts.

He got roughed up in his first start of the 2013 slate, allowing five runs and 11 baserunners in 5 1/3 innings of work against the Cardinals.

Today's storyline: Will the surprise day off help or hurt the Cubs?

As they say, hitting is contagious, and sometimes a day off can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the Cubs received a much-needed rest after playing eight games in nine days to start the regular season.

On the other hand, the day off saps at least some of the momentum the Cubs had built up in Tuesday's 6-3 win over the Brewers. They turned in their best offensive performance of the season, racking up nine hits and six runs, while taking four walks.

On the season, the Cubs are still hitting just .154 (8-for-52) with runners in scoring position, but they plated three runs with productive outs Tuesday, including RBI groundouts by Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo as well as a sacrifice fly from Scott Hairston.

What else to watch for

The Cubs have already been tested early this season, facing off against the Braves, a playoff team a year ago. But that road only gets harder Thursday with the defending champion Giants followed by a three-game series with the Rangers, one of MLB's best teams the past three seasons.

If the Cubs are going to make things interesting this year, they have to show something in this seven-game stretch.

[RELATED: Rizzo watch: Cubs waiting for another power surge]

The Giants are Major League Baseball's closest thing to a dynasty, having won two of the last three World Series. They built their teams on pitching, defense and timely hitting, and provide a model of success the Cubs are hoping to mimic.

It will be a good test to see just how far away the Cubs are from the seasons of sustained success the front office is working toward.

The last word

With Wednesday's rainout, Jeff Samardzija's start will be pushed back to Saturday, instead of Friday. Which means he won't be matched up with Giants ace Matt Cain, Friday's projected starter.

However, a Saturday duel with budding star Madison Bumgarner may be just as entertaining.