Series Preview #7, @ Chicago Cubs

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Diamondbacks battle for the worst record in the National League as they travel to Wrigley to face Starlin Castro and the Chicago Cubs.

What's New?

The Diamondbacks finally saw their six-game losing streak come to an end in their series opener in Los Angeles, yet still dropped the series' final two games and have lost eight of their last nine games. Their trip to southern California saw promising performances from the starters, as Wade Miley and Josh Collmenter each went six innings in solid outings, and Mike Bolsinger looked solid before unraveling in the fourth inning on Saturday night. The Diamondbacks still hold Major League Baseball's worst winning percentage (0.238) and have two more losses than any other team in baseball.

While their team ERA went down by over one run during their last series, it still ranks as the worst in baseball (5.75). Chicago has had its share of struggles as well, as they dropped two of three to the Reds to fall to 5-12 on the season (last in NL Central). After previously losing a doubleheader against the Yankees, the Cubs have lost four out of their last five games. The Diamondbacks are playing a non-NL West opponent for just the second time this season (they were swept by the New York Mets last week), and are playing the Cubs for the first time in 2014.

On The Mend

Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock was removed from Sunday's 4-1 loss against the Dodgers with neck tightness, and is expected to be day-to-day. Pollock experienced tightness on the left side of his neck after a swing in the third inning, and did not return after the sixth inning.

"It started off where I couldn't really turn left with it. I just figured it was going to kind of loosen up, but then the whole thing just locked up." - Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock, to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert

Pollock experienced a similar issue on the right side of his neck earlier in the season against Colorado, and is not expected to go on the disabled list. In his absence expect some extra playing time for Tony Campana as well as a shift by Gerardo Parra to center field.

Fortunately, we now have Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross back, who made his 2014 debut Friday in the Diamondbacks 4-2 win over the Dodgers, returning from a hip injury he sustained in August of last season. Ross went 0 for 9 in the series, striking out three times after starting Friday and Saturday night.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo left Saturday's game against the Reds with back spasms, but appears to be okay. He started in Chicago's 8-2 loss Sunday, going 2 for 3 with two walks.

Chicago right hander Jake Arrieta will not pitch during the four game series and will require one more rehab start at Triple-A Iowa before making his 2014 debut, according to Cubs.com.

Who's Hot, Who's Not

Hot: Miguel Montero, catcher

'Miggy' is hitting .313 in the past week, with six hits in his last 15 at-bats. As Mark Trumbo has tailed off and Paul Goldschmidt has cooled down as well, it has been Montero carrying the load. Three of his five hits this past week have been for extra bases, and his five RBIs pushed him to third on the team behind the powerful Trumbo-Goldy duo. Despite his struggles defensively thus far in 2014 (just one runner thrown out and managing the league's worst statistical pitching staff), his offense has stabilized the lineup after it began to slip in the previous series against the Mets.

Not: Brandon McCarthy, pitcher

I could probably put the entire Arizona pitching staff here (with the exception of Wade Miley and relievers Joe Thatcher, J.J. Putz, and Brad Ziegler), but McCarthy really stands out here. The right hander has given up the second most earned runs in baseball (20), and has a 7.23 ERA in just 25.1 innings pitched. While he has gone more than five innings in each of his fours starts (something only Wade Miley has been able to say for this year's team), McCarthy seemingly always hits a 'wall', and has given up five or more runs in three of his four starts. Starting pitching has been an issue for Arizona, and McCarthy has been one of the faces of this rotation's demise.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Monday 7:05 CT: RHP Bronson Arroyo (1-1, 9.95 ERA) vs. LHP Travis Wood (0-2 3.00 ERA)

Arroyo had a solid start to 2014, giving up just five runs in his first two starts (over 9.1 innings), but exploded in his last start against the Mets (9 ER on 10 hits in 3.1 innings). He has plenty of experience against the Cubs after several years in the NL Central, with solid success against the North Siders. Wood has been solid all year, coming up on the wrong end of two of his three starts despite having three quality starts and never giving up more than three earned runs. However, he has had more than his share of struggles against the Diamondbacks in his career, going 1-4 with a 6.33 ERA against Arizona.

Game 2, Tuesday 7:05 CT: RHP Brandon McCarthy (0-3, 7.11 ERA) vs. RHP Jason Hammel (2-1, 3.05 ERA)

I've already detailed McCarthy's struggles this season above, but his last outing has to be a promising sign (3 ER in 5.2 IP against the Mets). Another promising sign for the beleaguered right hander is his career 2.45 ERA at Wrigley Field in two appearances. Hammel has had a great start to 2014, with quality starts in each of his appearances, getting to the seventh inning in each of his three starts, holding hitters to a .143 batting average. This will be Hammel's ninth career start against the Diamondbacks.

Game 3, Wednesday 1:20 CT: LHP Wade Miley (2-2, 4.35 ERA) vs. RHP Jeff Samardzija (0-2, 1.29 ERA)

Wednesday will be a special day at Wrigley Field, as there will be a pregame celebration for the 100th anniversary of the the storied ballpark. Miley has been the Diamondbacks' best pitcher this season, and was strong Friday night in Los Angeles, going six innings and giving up just one run on two hits. Miley has gone at least five innings in each of his four starts, and has yet to give up more than five runs in a start. Samardzija has turned the corner this season, as a lack of run support is the lone reason fro his 0-2 start. He has four quality starts, and has gone seven innings in every one of his starts, and has posted a 1.07 WHIP.

Game 4, Thursday 1:20 CT: RHP Mike Bolsinger (0-1, 10.29 ERA) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (1-1, 5.40 ERA)

Bolsinger had a rough outing in his first major league start Saturday, giving up six runs in four innings against the Dodgers while getting knocked around in Los Angeles' 8-6 win. Bolsinger was solid in Triple-A this season (2-0, 1.42 ERA) , and cruised through the first three innings before giving up a three-run homer to open up the onslaught. Jackson, a former Diamondback, has seen mixed results so far in 2014, with two solid outings (1 ER in 5.1 IP, 2 ER in 5.2 IP) and giving up four or more runs in the other two outings. Jackson is 2-3 with a 4.95 ERA in seven career starts against Arizona

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