Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs' Sveum on how to beat Strasburg

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The good news: the Cubs have a .375 team batting average and .500 team slugging percentage against powerful Washington starter Stephen Strasburg.

The not so good: Chris Volstad is the only guy on the team with an extra-base hit against Strasburg and manager Dale Sveum joked he might use the pitcher as a pinch-hitter in Thursday's opener because so few of his players have seen Strasburg. At least we think he was joking.

``He's actually got a hit off him,'' Sveum said. ``Other than that, yeah, we've only got three guys that have faced him.''

Leadoff man David DeJesus is 2-for-3 against him; newly acquired Luis Valbeuno - who hasn't been on the field in a game for the Cubs - is 0-for-2.

``Even myself, we seemed to miss him when I was a coach in Milwaukee, so I haven't seen him in person,'' Sveum said.

But the Cubs know this much: Strasburg, who is all the way back from Tommy John surgery, has been overpowering when he has pitched for the Nationals the past two seasons.

He's 6-4 with a 2.54 ERA in 17 career starts over the past two seasons with a WHIP under 1.000 and 116 strikeouts (19 walks) in 92 innings.

``Hopefully, we get into [his] pitch count or whatever, but we've got to take advantage of the mistakes he makes,'' Sveum said. ``We all know he's got good stuff. But you've got to take advantage of the mistakes he makes. When you get people on base, you've got to move them and do some things that way.

``Hopefully, you pop one. The guys like this, the [Roy] Halladays, the guys that finish seasons with 2.5 earned run averages, you got to pop one. You got to pop one hopefully with people on base.

``It's hard to string hits together, and he's not a guy that's going to walk a lot of guys. So you've got to do something big with these guys.''

Or match him pitch-for-pitch on the other side.

Cubs starter Ryan Dempster is 9-1 with a 2.87 ERA in his career against the Nationals, including a seven-inning victory last season in which he allowed just one run on three hits.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on April 5, 2012 12:29 PM.

Cubs' LaHair (back) iffy for opener was the previous entry in this blog.

Sveum: Cubs' Clevenger ``valuable weapon'' is the next entry in this blog.

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