Series Preview: Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros
Sure, it's easy to look at the Astros 25-30 record and see a bad team. Not only is it easy, it's fun. But what about the fact that the Astros have a better record than the Cubs over their last 10 games. Is that a fun fact? Or that they've played 14-15 baseball over their last 30 games.
Wait, what? Huh. Alright, I take back everything I was about to say. Any team that can't even manage to play 30 games over 30 games immediately loses my respect. The Astros suck.
But they're still dangerous (and don't you forget it!). The heart of the Astros lineup is the Killer B's, er, B, Lance Berkman*. They also have a killer T, P, and an L, although none of them are able to get HB the P like the B's of lore. They've got a killer VORP, wOBP, and OPS though.
But enough letters, let's get to some numbers. If you've got the time, I've got the matchups.
(* and now I've used up all my commas for the rest of the articles)
Tuesday, June 6th - Ted Lilly vs. Brian Moehler
On paper, this matchup clearly favors the Cubs. Brian Moehler comes into play with a 6.37 ERA and has been giving out hits like a hit given at a hit given event (what, you expected a Bobby Brown reference?). However, the game isn't played on paper, it's played on the field. Luckily for the Cubs, the matchup's even better on the field.
Lilly has not only been the best pitcher on the Cubs, he's been one of the best pitchers in baseball. When Lilly came to Chicago, his K:BB ratio went from less than two to more than 3, and that's made all the difference. Ha, and you thought it was taking the road less traveled. Shows what Frost knows about pitching.
Wednesday, June 7th - Carlos Zambrano vs. Wandy Rodriguez
You know why Carlos hasn't moved into the upper echelon of pitchers, a la Roy Halliday or even Roy Oswalt? It's not because of the occasional emotional outburst. And it's also not because he prefers to fly Southwest instead of ride the team's charter (he's just keepin' it real, people). It's because his control's not that great. While he probably has better stuff than any of those other pitchers, his control is not consistently good and that's why his ERA is generally higher and he hasn't become the best pitcher in the NL.
Good Carlos is not the Carlos that quietly goes about his business. Bad Carlos is not the Carlos that beats the hell out of Gatorade machines. Here's the real Good/Bad breakdown:
- Good Carlos: Carlos throwing strikes
- Bad Carlos: Carlos not throwing strikes
Simple. So Carlos, go out there and throw strikes.
You all know my opinions of Wandy Rodriguez. He's become a very nice pitcher. He has a name that sounds suspiciously like a burger joint. And so while his numbers may evoke thoughts of one Theodore Roosevelt Lilly, he shall never compare.
Thurday, June 8th - Ryan Dempster vs. Roy Oswalt
While Dempster's overall numbers are only middling (4.12 ERA, 4-3 record), he's been great since the calendar turned. In the last four weeks, Dempster has a 2.90 ERA and has really improved his control. Given what he's been dealing with regarding his daughter, the numbers are doubly impressive. Perhaps his recent bout of inspired baseball...really is inspired. So far, Ryan's done nothing but live up to his contract (some might say two months into a four year contract is too soon to judge...not me). Here's hoping he continues his recent trend of pitching and that his daughter continues to inspire him as she overcomes her own obstacles.
Oswalt has definitely been less than good so far this year, but looking at his peripherals, it's hard to see why. His K:BB numbers are slightly on the bad side of his usual line, but not any worse than in 2007. Same with his WHIP. In fact, the only thing that he's clearly been worse at is giving up the extra base hits; his homer rate is way up (12 already, usually a season's worth for him). Looking at his Ground ball to fly ball ratio (0.67), hitters are getting the ball into the air far more often on him and it's proceeding to leave the park a bit more often. Also, a greater percentage of contract against him has been line drives than ever before (20%), suggesting all the hits he's been giving up have been earned. Looks like Oswalts's having a down year, stuff-wise. Okay, I guess that wasn't so hard to figure out after all. Nevermind. Here's hoping the trend continues.
Nothing to conclude because whatever I type here affects the Cubs outcome. Because I'm magic. I think I might be a witch.
Although, I will say that the MLB Draft is today! Bring on the prospects! I will be live blogging the event, although not in any kind of written format. However, if you happen to be around me this afternoon, you can watch my lips move as I maintain a running inner monologue (or "monoblog").