Series Preview: Cubs at Pittsburgh
First, stop reading this article and check out the Series Preview written by Brandon on the Readers Blog section. Chances are, it's better than mine will be.
Okay -- are you back? Let's roll.
These days, Cub fans love the Pittsburgh Pirates. They're NL Central speak for "easy pickings." And, for as badly hit-and-miss as the Cubs have been, it's nothing compared to the Pirates.
Check it out -
Pittsburgh has won 10 games. 8 of those 10 games have come in streak clusters -- 2 to start off the season, 3 in a row from April 16-18, and 3 more from April 27-29. As is to be expected, the Pirates have outscored their opponents 56-34 in games they've won.
Pittsburgh has lost 15 games. All but 1 loss came in streak clusters -- with a 7 game losing skid from April 20th to April 26th, and 3 more losses since Friday. And while they would be, obviously, expected to be outscored by their opponents in these losses, it's more like they've been blown out. Pirate opponents have outscored them 141-30 in their losses. That's nearly 10 runs given up per game by Pirates pitchers in losses. Pittsburgh has already had games in which they surrendered 10 runs (April 8, April 25), 15 runs (April 11), 17 runs (April 26), and 20 runs (April 22).
Ouch. Seriously, ouch.
But as ridiculous as those lines are, the Pirates are presently closer to the Cubs in the standings than the Cubs are to the Cardinals.
On this blog, it's probably not too popular to stand up and proclaim your belief that the Cubs not only might reach the post season this year, but they probably will. Well, looking purely at the standings, the Pirates would have an easier time overtaking the Cubs than the Cubs would overtaking the Cardinals. Figure that one out.
Tuesday, May 4th - Ryan Dempster (2-1, 2.78 ERA) vs. Paul Maholm (1-2, 4.83 ERA)
Dempster has so far been a pretty reliable starter, but it's extremely early. Still, most years he has been considerably more effective at home than on the road (Sman would probably consider that to be a fatal defect).
His opponent is lefty Paul Maholm, whose career ERA (4.35) is a lot better than his career record (39-46). Then again, he's pitched for a team that's never won 70 games or more while he's been there, so a poor record is understandable.
Wednesday, May 5th - Ted Lilly (1-1, 4.91 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (0-5, 12.57 ERA)
Lilly is bound to improve upon his ERA, but so is Morton. I mean, Charlie Morton really isn't that bad, is he? Maybe he's just the victim of circumstance? Looking at his game log this year, it's hard to miss the fact that his "best" game was his last one, in which he "only" gave up 6 runs -- 3 earned -- in 6 innings pitched.
Still, he's probably due for a good game.
Thursday, May 6th - Randy Wells (3-0, 3.45 ERA) vs. Who the Hell Knows
The Pirates haven't announced their final starter yet, but Brandon suspects that it will be Brian Burres, who pitched well against the Dodgers last week.
Randy Wells, who couldn't buy a win to start his 2009 season, is off to an unbeaten start in 2010. If the Cubs manage to pull up the nose on their tailspin (and it looks like they will), it will be due to the solid pitching of guys like Randy.
Yep, Brandon definitely said it better.
Here's one thought for you -- yes, the Cubs bullpen sux, no denying that, and yes, they are either Big Hit or Huge Miss, but I think Rob is wrong to suggest that the '10 team as we see them cannot get the job done. Here's why:
Do you really think that, in September, the starting third baseman of the Chicago Cubs will be batting .155? And do you really think the starting first baseman will be batting .221?
Granted, this was the same argument I made last year when Milton Bradley and Geovany Soto were leading the Suck Ass Charge, but I think it's still a fair argument to make. While it's true that Alfonso Soriano will probably not be a .325 hitter all year long, and while we know that Fukudome will certainly not be a .342'er, improved hitting from Lee and Ramirez will go a long way toward making the Cubs offense a little more regular.
In other words, if you happen to have that unfortunate opinion that the Cubs just might be a thread to compete this year after all ... well, I'm right there with you. These guys aren't done just yet.
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