WASHINGTON -- The last time the Cubs faced the Nationals, both teams started the series with 0-0 records on Opening Day. Since then, the two clubs have taken divergent paths, with the Nationals coming into Monday's series opener leading all of baseball with a .609 winning percentage and the Cubs 30 games back in the NL Central.
The two teams meet again this week in a three-game series at Nationals Park, giving the Cubs a chance to evaluate a possible organizational model moving forward.
"The bottom line is, [the Nationals mostly built their club] through the Draft and through the organization, then mixed their pieces in, and they obviously made a nice trade and picked up [Gio] Gonzalez, and they had [Jordan] Zimmermann, and [Ross] Detwiler's come through," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Those kind of things, and all of sudden, you've got the best team in the National League. But the bottom line is, most of their core players have come through their organization."
The Cubs will send out some of their own young talent this week, starting with 25-year-old left-hander Chris Rusin on Tuesday. Rusin starts against the Nats' Edwin Jackson, and in his Major League debut on Aug. 21 in Milwaukee, Rusin allowed just one run on one hit in five innings. He took the loss, however, as the Cubs fell to the Brewers, 5-2.
With Major League rosters able to be expanded to 40 players as of Saturday, the Cubs also plan to call up catcher Anthony Recker from Double-A Tennessee on Tuesday. Recker was traded to the Cubs from the A's on Aug. 27, where he was on Oakland's opening-day roster. Recker is 1-for-10 at the plate in three games with Tennessee, and also went 2-for-9 with a double and a run scored for Triple-A Iowa.
Sveum added that Rafael Dolis could also be called up on Wednesday. Dolis was briefly the Cubs' closer earlier this season and is currently with Tennessee, as well. In 27 games with the Cubs earlier this season, Dolis went 2-4 with four saves and a 6.44 ERA in 29 1/3 innings pitched.
"It's all wait and see, but we have to develop through the organization to get where we want to be," Sveum said. "Some of the guys here -- the Brett Jacksons and [Anthony] Rizzos -- they still have to get accustomed to this and be able to produce, too. That's still in a waiting pattern as well."