Description: Lefthander Jonathan Sanchez has signed a minor league deal with the Cubs. SOURCE: Chicago Tribune
Insight: He'll try to make the team out of spring training. Sanchez has now played with five teams in the last three years. His last productive season came in 2010 when he logged 13 victories with a 3.07 ERA in 33 starts for San Francisco.
Description: The Cubs inked closer Jose Veras to a one-year, $4 million deal on Tuesday. SOURCE: Enrique Rojas, ESPN Deportes
Insight: For Veras, it's his eighth team in the last four years. Veras won't have many save opportunities in Chicago but he's probably still worth looking at in the later rounds of most fantasy drafts.
Description: Infielder Ryan Roberts was signed to a minor league contract by the Chicago Cubs.
Insight: Roberts never got it going in Tampa Bay. His best season came in 2011 when he played full-time in Arizona and batted .249 with 19 HR, 65 RBI, 86 runs scored and 18 stolen bases. Given the talent level in Chicago, he has a chance to make the big club.
Description: Cubs starter Travis Wood will only throw one inning Friday against St. Louis, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com.
Insight: That will allow Wood to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career. This is disappointing news for fantasy owners counting on one last start from the left-hander, who has gone 9-11 with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP this season.
Description: Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is 0-for-11 versus Pittsburgh left-hander Francisco Liriano.
Insight: Rizzo has not done what was expected of him this season despite 22 homers and 78 RBI. Of course, expectations were very high after a solid half season last year (.285, 15 HR, 48 RBI, .805 OPS in 337 at-bats). Avoid this matchup.
Description: Chicago righthander Kevin Gregg generated controversy with some of his postgame remarks Friday after losing to Atlanta. He has since apologized to the organization for those comments. SOURCE: Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune
Insight: Gregg lashed out at Cubs president Theo Epstein for the team's decision to use Pedro Strop in the closer's role for the rest of the season. Epstein gave strong consideration to releasing Gregg but decided instead to accept his apology and let the rest of the season play out. We wouldn't expect Gregg to be back with the Cubs next season.
Description: Cubs catcher Welington Castillo has a partial tear of his right meniscus and is done for the season, according to ESPN Chicago. Castillo will have a 4-6 week recovery ahead of him.
Insight: GM Theo Epstein said that the 26-year-old Castillo is part of Chicago's core for the future. After not producing much at the plate for most of the season, Castillo hit .310 with four homers over his last eight games before the injury, but he's not likely to be on the fantasy radar next year.
Description: Cubs righthander Jake Arrieta dominated the Brewers for his fourth win Thursday at Miller Park.
Insight: Arrieta has been much better since the Orioles traded him to Chicago. In eight games for his new club, the 27-year-old is 3-2 with a 3.94 ERA. Prior to the trade, he was 1-2 with an ERA over seven.
Description: The Cubs will use Pedro Strop at closer for the rest of the season, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
Insight: Kevin Gregg has had a surprisingly good season, saving 32 of 37 games and posting a 2.95 ERA in 58 innings. However, Strop is eligible for arbitration and the Cubs want to see what they have in him, and Gregg will be a free agent and probably won't return.
Description: Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is 1-for-12 versus Milwaukee starter Marco Estrada.
Insight: Rizzo has not done what was expected of him this season despite 22 homers and 75 RBI. Of course, expectations were very high after a solid half season last year (.285, 15 HR, 48 RBI, .805 OPS in 337 at-bats). Avoid this matchup.
Description: Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is 4-for-10 with a pair of home runs versus Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta.
Insight: Rizzo has not done what was expected of him this season despite 22 homers and 75 RBI. Of course, expectations were very high after a solid half season last year (.285, 15 HR, 48 RBI, .805 OPS in 337 at-bats). this is a favorable matchup, however.
Description: Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija served up two homers, eight hits and six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings Wednesday at Cincinnati. He has given up at least five earned runs in three straight starts.
Insight: Samardzija looked like a breakout ace in the first three months of the season when he had a 3.34 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP and 120 strikeouts in 113 1/3 innings, but he has imploded since the start of July. In his last 81 1/3 innings, Samardzija has given up 54 earned runs (5.98 ERA) with a 1.57 WHIP.
Description: Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz continues to add to his career-high home run total.
Insight: As a part-time player for San Francisco and Philadelphia, Schierholz never hit more than nine home runs in any season. After going deep Friday, he now has 20. His OPS is more than 100 points higher at Wrigley Field than on the road.
Description: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is a career .500 hitter (7-for-14) versus Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay.
Insight: Castro (.239, 7 HR, 33 RBI) has put together a thoroughly ugly season. He's talented, but he'll have to produce as he did in his first three seasons if he wants to be a valuable fantasy asset.
Description: Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo continues to be one of the most frustrating players in fantasy. One night after blasting two homers, he went 0-for-6 in a Thursday afternoon loss to Washington.
Insight: Rizzo, who inked a seven-year deal with the Cubbies earlier in 2013, is now hitting .229 for the season. Still, it's tough to sit him because you never know when he's going to homer (20 HR in 125 games). Rizzo has regressed in a big way this season (he hit .285 in 2012) and probably won't warrant as high a pick in next year's draft.
Description: Chicago right fielder Nate Schierholtz cranked two homers Monday in a win against the Nationals.
Insight: The homers came as part of a three-hit, six-RBI night for Schierholtz. It's been a career year for the 29-year-old. He's already more than doubled his career-high in homers with 18 blasts in 105 games.
Description: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro drew the ire of manager Dale Sveum Saturday after botching an infield popup Saturday against the Cardinals.
Insight: He was taken out of the game the following inning. Castro (.244, 7 HR, 32 RBI) has had a tendency to make mental mistakes in the past (he forgot how many outs there were in a game last year) so this news shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Though talented, the 23-year-old is still very much a work in progress.
Description: Cubs starter Jake Arrieta fired seven scoreless two-hit innings Friday afternoon in a win over the Cardinals.
Insight: Arrieta has allowed just four hits and one run over 13 innings in two starts with the Cubs. The former highly touted Orioles prospect has a career ERA over 5.00, but he could be a decent NL-only option down the stretch now that he's out of the AL East.
Description: Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo is 6-for-11 (.545) against Cardinals right-hander Jake Westbrook with a 1.343 OPS.
Insight: Rizzo's fantasy value has fallen steady over the months after posting an .846 OPS in April we've seen the number fall to .807 in May, .745 in June, .701 in July and an ugly .571 in 13 August games. Even this favorable matchup may not be enough.
Description: Chicago lefthander Travis Wood was a tough-luck loser Monday versus Cincinnati.
Insight: Wood (8 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 5 K's) pitched well but fell to Mat Latos in an epic pitcher's duel at Wrigley Field. Despite having a losing record, Wood's 3.00 ERA is the lowest of his career and good for 15th-best in the National League.
Description: Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz has followed up a 2-for-24 (.083) slump with six hits in his last 13 at-bats.
Insight: Schierholtz belted his 15th home run of the season Thursday against the Phillies. He only plays against righties so his fantasy value is limited, but he has provided a .273 average, 46 RBI and an .841 OPS in 346 plate appearances this season.
Description: Cubs third baseman Donnie Murphy walloped two homers Wednesday in a 5-2 win against the Phillies.
Insight: Murphy has been red-hot since getting called up earlier in the week. In three games, he's batting .444 with three long balls and seven RBI. His OPS in those games is 2.101. Murphy was hitting .265 with 12 HR and 41 RBI for Triple-A Iowa prior to his callup.
Description: Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo won't play Wednesday against the Phillies.
Insight: Rizzo hasn't lived up to his massive contract (seven years, $41 million) but he hasn't been unproductive either (.240, 18 HR, 63 RBI). Cody Ransom will get the start at first tonight against Philadelphia ace Cole Hamels.
Description: Cubs rookie Junior Lake is batting .333 over his last 14 games with four homers and seven RBI.
Insight: The four homers were as many as he hit in 40 minor league games this season. The prospect is a third baseman by trade, but he has played either left or center field in every game so far.He'll bat leadoff for the second time this season.
Description: Cubs rookie Junior Lake has gone 2-for-21 since starting out 15-for-31 in his first seven major league games.
Insight: The prospect is a third baseman by trade but he has played either left or center field in his 12 games so far. The 23-year-old batted .295 with four home runs, a 33/10 K/BB and 14 steals in 156 at-bats with Triple-A Iowa this season. He shouldn't be owned outside of NL-only formats.
Description: Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro holds a .438 lifetime average versus Tim Lincecum.
Insight: Castro has rebounded nicely from a slow first half, hitting .325 in his first 40 post All-Star at bats. Despite a recent no-hitter, Tim Lincecum doesn't scare opponents the way he used to. Fantasy owners can expect another solid performance from Castro in the series finale.
Description: Making only his third start of the year, Cubs lefthander Chris Rusin was rock solid in a seven inning effort against San Francisco (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K's).
Insight: Rusin was promoted to the rotation earlier this week when the Cubs traded Matt Garza to Texas. Chicago didn't score until the ninth inning so Rusin had to settle for the no-decision. The Giants' offense is really struggling right now. They're hitting just .234 for the month of July.
Description: The Yankees are close to acquiring Alfonso Soriano from the Cubs, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.
Insight: Cubs manager Dale Sveum confirmed that the trade is the reason why Soriano was a late scratch from Thursday's lineup. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reports that Chicago will eat more than half of the remaining $24 million on Soriano's contract. The trade, which will return Soriano to the team he played for the first five seasons of his career, is expected to be finalized by commissioner Bud Selig Friday.
Description: Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano would approve a trade to the Yankees. SOURCE: Carrie Muskat, MLB.com
Insight: Soriano spent his first five seasons in New York, batting .284 with 98 HR, 270 RBI and 121 stolen bases in 501 games. This year for Chicago, he's hitting .254 with a .467 slugging percentage in 93 games. For now, no trade appears imminent.
Description: Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano is 6-for-13 (.462) with three homers and seven RBI versus Arizona starter Ian Kennedy.
Insight: Soriano doesn't hit for much of an average, but can provide right-handed power. He's hit 17 homers this season after blasting 32 in 2012. He's been rumored to be headed to the Yankees in a deal.
Description: Cubs right-hander Matt Garza may be headed out of town before the trade deadline, but Chicago will get at least one more start from him - Monday night versus Arizona.
Insight: For the Cubs' sake, we hope Garza comes out of the game without any injury which would sink their trade plans. He's a solid 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA and 1.141 WHIP in 11 starts. At least five contending teams have shown serious interest.
Description: Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro is 13-for-30 (.433) over his last seven games.
Insight: Castro went 4-for-5 with a double Sunday to raise his average to .247. He's been one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy this season, but given the lack of strong options at shortstop, owners should buy low.
Description: Pedro Strop could become the Cubs' closer if Kevin Gregg is dealt at the trade deadline. SOURCE: Chicago Sun-Times
Insight: Strop has been automatic since coming over from Baltimore at the start of the month (0.00 ERA in eight appearances). It looks like the Cubs will be sellers at the deadline with Matt Garza also on the trading block.
Description: Chicago manager Dale Sveum hinted that Carlos Villanueva's recent struggles might cost him his spot in the starting rotation. SOURCE: Chicago Tribune
Insight: Of course, if Matt Garza is traded before the deadline (which seems like a very realistic possibility), the Cubs may not have a choice. Villanueva is just 1-5 with a 4.46 ERA in 11 starts this season.
Description: It appeared Matt Garza was headed to the Rangers but now that deal has hit a snag. SOURCE: Jeff Passan, Yahoo Sports
Insight: As of Friday afternoon the deal was "99 percent done" but now it's no longer a certainty. Assuming he hasn't already been traded, the righthander is scheduled to start for the Cubs Monday against Arizona.
Description: Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz is probable for Friday's game against Colorado after missing the final two games of the first half with general body soreness.
Insight: Although his pace has slowed over the past two weeks, Schierholtz is still producing solid fantasy numbers with 11 HR, 34 RBI and an .825 OPS. He's been the subject of trade rumors as we approach the deadline.
Description: Cubs outfielder Brian Bogusevic is questionable for Friday's game against Colorado with a strained left hamstring.
Insight: Bogusevic has been dealing with the injury for a couple of weeks and can't shake it. He is batting .261, but without much power or speed, so his fantasy value is minimal. He did bat .319 with 10 homers and 15 steals in 78 games at Triple-A Iowa, so has some upside if he can find that same swing.
Description: According to Bruce Levine from ESPN Dallas, Texas and Toronto have emerged as front runners in the Matt Garza sweepstakes.
Insight: The Chicago Tribune reported Sunday that Garza would likely be traded before his next start. If for some reason the Jays or Rangers lose interest, look for the Dodgers, Nationals, Orioles, Pirates, Red Sox and Tigers to get involved.
Description: Cubs right-hander Scott Baker (elbow) will begin his rehab assignment Sunday, according to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com.
Insight: Baker had Tommy John surgery last April when he was with the Twins and experienced elbow soreness after his spring training debut. He could make his Cubs debut in the second week of August if he doesn't have any setbacks.
Description: Cubs right-hander Scott Baker (elbow) threw his fourth simulated game Tuesday, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
Insight: Baker had Tommy John surgery last April when he was with the Twins and experienced elbow soreness after his spring debut. He could make his Cubs debut in one month if he doesn't have any more setbacks.
Description: Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz is 5-for-7 (.714) with a pair of home runs against veteran right-hander Joe Blanton.
Insight: Sure the sample size is extremely small, but he puts the bat on the ball with authority against Blanton. Although his pace has slowed over the past two weeks (batting .143 in that span), Schierholtz is still producing solid fantasy numbers with 11 HR, 34 RBI and an .834 OPS.
Description: Once thought to be on the trading block, Matt Garza and the Cubs are now talking about a long-term deal. SOURCE: Jon Heyman, CBS Sports
Insight: Garza's been on a roll lately with three wins and a 0.90 ERA in his last four starts. If the Cubs change their mind and make Garza available in a trade, several teams will be interested including the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Indians, Nationals, Orioles, Rangers and Red Sox.
Description: Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro has been terrific against Pirates righthander A.J. Burnett.
Insight: Burnett, who is making his return from the DL on Sunday, has allowed eight hits to Castro in 19 at bats. That computes to a .421 average, which is almost 200 points higher than Castro's season average (.234 in 355 at bats).
Description: Recently recalled Dave Sappelt will start in center field and leadoff on Friday versus the Pirates.
Insight: With David DeJesus and Brian Bogusevic hurt, the Cubs don't have many options. Sappelt has yet to prove that he can hit big league pitching, batting just .178 in 45 at-bats this season and has little fantasy value.
Description: Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva will rejoin the rotation following the trade of Scott Feldman to the Orioles, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Insight: The Cubs moved Villanueva to the bullpen when Matt Garza came off the DL. He went 1-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 52 2/3 innings over eight starts and has posted a 2.04 ERA in 17 2/3 as a reliever. Owners in deep leagues should consider the righty.
Description: Righthander Jake Arrieta was traded to the Cubs on Tuesday.
Insight: He came over as part of the Scott Feldman trade. Arrieta (1-2, 7.23 ERA in five starts) hasn't pitched well for the Orioles this year but maybe a change of scenery and lower expectations (the Cubs are 15 and a half games out of first) will help him get back on track.
Description: According to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, reliever Carlos Marmol is close to being traded to the Dodgers.
Insight: Marmol, who was designated for assignment about a week ago, shouldn't pose much of a threat to closer Kenley Jansen if the Dodgers acquire him. Even if Jansen gets hurt, Don Mattingly would have to be pretty desperate to use Marmol (2-4, 5.86 ERA) in the ninth inning.
Description: Cubs manager Dale Sveum mentioned Blake Parker as a potential replacement for closer Kevin Gregg, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Insight: Gregg, who has saved 12-of-13, is on the trade block. Parker had a 2.04 ERA and seven saves in 17 2/3 innings with Triple-A Iowa before being recalled at the start of June, and he has posted a 2.19 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP in 12 1/3 innings with the big club.
Description: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro went 2-for-5 with a solo homer Saturday at Seattle.
Insight: Castro has gone 6-for-19 with a double and a homer since the team sat him down and snapped his streak of 269 consecutive games. He's too talented to struggle as much as he has been this month, but he'll need to make some major adjustments at the plate.
Description: Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano had a big night Saturday at Seattle, going 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBI.
Insight: Soriano hit a two-run home run in the top of the 11th inning to break a tie game. The left fielder has homered in two straight games and picked up multiple hits in three of the last four, but he's still hitting just .254 with nine homers and 34 RBI.
Description: Cubs closer Kevin Gregg blew his first save of the season Saturday against Seattle.
Insight: Gregg had saved all 12 of his chances since becoming Chicago's closer, but it was only a matter of time before he blew one. He has a 1.71 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP, but fantasy owners should expect him to both drop off from those heights and be traded to a contender looking for middle relief help.
Description: Chicago starter Matt Garza is heating up. Thursday was his second win in a row.
Insight: Thursday against the Brewers, Garza finished with ten strikeouts, his most since April 29th of last season. Over his last three starts, Garza is undefeated with a 0.82 ERA in 22 innings pitched.
Description: Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano will get another day off Thursday against the Brewers, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
Insight: Soriano is not injured, just slumping. He's hitting .191 with a .521 OPS and 27 strikeouts in June. Cubs skipper Dale Sveum said Soriano likely will DH during the team's upcoming road trip to Seattle and Oakland.
Description: Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano is a career .160 hitter (4-for-25) with 11 strikeouts in his matchups against Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo.
Insight: Soriano was surprisingly good last season, but the 37-year-old is nowhere near that production level this season. He's batting .245 with seven homers, 30 RBI and a .666 OPS which is 155 points below last season's numbers. Avoid this matchup.
Description: Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney is just 2-for-20 with six strikeouts against Milwaukee right-hander Yovani Gallardo.
Insight: Barney started the season on the DL after suffering a deep gash in his knee in spring training. We're still waiting for him to show us fantasy worthy production, but at this point in his career it may never happen.
Description: The Cubs have released infielder Ian Stewart two weeks after he complained about the team on Twitter, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.
Insight: After Stewart tweeted his frustrations about being stuck in the minors, Chicago suspended him for 10 days for violating the "loyalty clause" in his contract. The former first-round pick shouldn't have a problem catching on with another organization, but he hasn't been a fantasy option since 2010.
Description: Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol has been designated for assignment.
Insight: It was just 2010 when Marmol was one of the kings of the bullpen with 38 saves, a 2.55 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 138 strikeouts in just 77 2/3 IP. The wild right-hander can still strike out batters, but posted a 5.86 ERA and 21 walks in just 27 2/3 innings this season.
Description: Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano is a career .377 hitter with four homers and 12 RBI against Milwaukee starter Kyle Lohse.
Insight: Soriano surprisingly hit 32 homers and drove in 108 runs last season, but the 37-year-old is nowhere near that production level this season. He's batting .248 with seven homers, 30 RBI and a .676 OPS which is 145 points below last season's numbers.
Description: Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo is starting to heat up.
Insight: Rizzo played a major part in the Cubs' 14-6 demolition of the Astros Sunday by going 3-for-3 with a double, a homer, four RBI and four runs scored. The first baseman hit .181 (19-for-105) with zero homers in 28 games from May 19 to June 20, but he's 5-for-9 with two longballs over his last three.
Description: According to ESPN's Buster Olney, many teams are expected to target Chicago starting pitcher Scott Feldman at this year's trade deadline.
Insight: Olney named the Diamondbacks and Orioles as two teams that could be in the market for Feldman's services. The former Texas Ranger has done well in his first and possibly only season with the Cubs, contributing a 3.39 ERA in 14 starts.
Description: Cubs starter Matt Garza gave up four hits and one run, walked two and struck out eight in eight innings Friday against the Astros.
Insight: Garza has put together his two best starts of the season over his last two turns, throwing 15 innings and allowing seven hits and one earned run. He has lowered his ERA from 6.26 to 4.25 in the process.
Description: Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook has faced Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano 30 times and held him to three singles and one RBI.
Insight: Soriano surprisingly hit 32 homers and drove in 108 runs last season, but the 37-year-old hs regressed this season. He's a mediocre fantasy option and shouldn't be started in any leagues Wednesday.
Description: Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija outdueled St. Louis' Adam Wainwright by going 8 1/3 innings and allowing two earned runs on seven hits with a 6/1 K/BB Tuesday night.
Insight: The Cubs were letting Samardzija go for his third career complete game, but he gave up two singles in the ninth before being removed for Kevin Gregg, who allowed one inherited runner to score before closing it out. Samardzija has emerged as one of the top pitchers in the National League this season, posting a 3.35 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP and a 110/34 K/BB in 99 1/3 innings, but he's just 4-7.
Description: Chicago righthander Matt Garza pitched brilliantly Sunday against New York, but his bullpen let him down by coughing up a three-run lead in the ninth inning.
Insight: Garza (1-1, 4.98 ERA) breezed through seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and two walks while collecting five punchouts. Maybe his bullpen will keep it together the next time he pitches Friday against Houston.
Description: Cubs starter Scott Feldman improved to 6-5 with seven strong innings Saturday against the Mets.
Insight: Feldman allowed just two hits, walked one and gave up one run with six K. The right-hander has a 3.05 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP and has been a nice surprise this season after posting a 5.09 ERA last year.
Description: Chicago center fielder David DeJesus went for a leaping catch in the outfield Friday against the Mets but ended up running into the wall. He left the game in the third inning. SOURCE: Patrick Mooney, Comcast Sportsnet Chicago
Insight: DeJesus is headed for X-rays on his right shoulder. He went 1-for-2 with an RBI triple before exiting.
Description: Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz is a career .538 hitter (7-for-13) against Cincinnati starter Mike Leake.
Insight: Schierholtz is batting .293 with seven homers and 23 RBI. He has been Chicago's starting right fielder against right-handers all season and has done nothing to lose the job. He might be worth a nice one-day play.
Description: Cubs starter Edwin Jackson won just his second game of the season Sunday versus Pittsburgh.
Insight: Jackson is 2-8 with a 5.76 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP, even after holding the Pirates to one run on four hits in seven innings Sunday. The right-hander is a buy-low candidate, however, as he has a 3.39 FIP and a 3.58 xFIP.
Description: According to Cubs.com, reliever Kyuji Fujikawa will undergo Tommy John surgery on his injured right shoulder this Tuesday.
Insight: It's a serious operation but at least he'll be in good hands with Dr. James Andrews performing the surgery. Fujikawa faces a long road to recovery but he should come back at close to full strength.
Description: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is batting seventh in Friday afternoon's lineup versus Francisco Liriano and the Pirates.
Insight: Castro has done most of his work batting second in the Cubs' lineup, but he's 1-for-14 over the past four games and just seven for his last 41. Third baseman Cody Ransom will bat second on Friday.
Description: Cubs outfielder David DeJesus is 2-for-15 (.133) against Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano.
Insight: DeJesus has been a solid leadoff hitter for the Cubs this season. He's never been a strong fantasy option because he doesn't excel in any category, but he does have a .275 average, five homers, 17 RBI, 31 runs and an .794 OPS through 53 games. This matchup isn't a good one.
Description: Cubs outfielder David DeJesus is hitless in nine at-bats versus Angels starter Jason Vargas.
Insight: DeJesus has been a solid leadoff hitter for the Cubs this season, but has struggled this past week. He's never been a strong fantasy option because he doesn't excel in any category, but he does have a .275 average, five homers, 17 RBI, 31 runs and an .794 OPS through 53 games. This matchup isn't a good one.
Description: Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano is 6-for-11 with three long balls and a 2.121 OPS versus Arizona starter Ian Kennedy.
Insight: Soriano homered in the first inning on Friday, his only hit of the day. He crushed Diamondbacks' pitching last season going 13-for-32 with four home runs. Make sure he's in your lineup for Saturday.
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 4-for-6 with three extra base hits versus Arizona starter Wade Miley.
Insight: Hairston has has done very little this season though two hits on Wednesday raised his average to .154. Latest update - Hairston is in the starting lineup, playing right field and batting fifth.
Description: Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano has driven in five runs over his last four games and has had success against White Sox starter Jake Peavy, who will throw Thursday against the Cubs.
Insight: Soriano is 9-for-29 (.310) with three doubles, three homers, seven RBI and five walks against Peavy. Overall he has just five homers, but Thursday would be a good day to get him in the lineup.
Description: Cubs starter Scott Feldman is 5-4 with a 2.82 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP after beating the White Sox with six strong innings -- six hits, two runs, zero BB, seven K -- Wednesday afternoon.
Insight: Feldman's .254 BABIP and 3.92 FIP suggest he'll regress, but there's no denying he has been very good so far. The right-hander has a 16.5 percent line-drive rate and has struck out 7.57 batters per nine innings.
Description: Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija tossed his first career shutout Monday against the White Sox.
Insight: Samardzija's 3-6 record doesn't exactly scream ace, but the rest of his numbers do (2.85 ERA, .196 AVG against, 80 K's, 1.05 WHIP). Samardzija will make his next start Saturday against Arizona.
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.