Series Preview - Chicago Cubs vs Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates roll into town with a chance to leap-frog the Cubs and send the Cubs reeling into last place. That's cool.
The Pirates, compared to the Cubs, are an offensive juggernaut. They currently rank 7th in the league in runs (the Cubs are 13th), lead by Adam LaRoche, Freddie Sanchez, and Andrew McCutchen. Those are pretty decent hitters, but do you know how many of the Pirates hitters have been better than their Cub counterpart?
All of them. Seriously. If you swapped any Pirate player for his positional equivalent on the Cubs, you would see an offensive improvement. That may be the most remarkable statement I've ever written on this site. The Pirates are that much better than the Cubs offensively.
So next time you think about the trouble the Cubs have had hitting the ball, just remember this: the Pirates are 100% better.
Monday, June 29th - Rich Harden vs. Zach Duke
Harden has been a hard 'en to figure out (heh). We all know that there are hardly any pitchers out there with better stuff then Harden when healthy and on, and yet Harden looks terrible. Granted, he hasn't been on and we don't know if he's healthy, but...well, I don't have a conclusion to that sentence. I just want him to do better. I was really excited to have a full season of Rich Harden and he's been yet another disappointment in 2009.
Zach Duke is the Pirate's best pitcher and a likely all-star, so of course the scuffling Cubs get to face him. Whee! Historically, the Cubs have handled him pretty well, but historically the Cubs haven't tried this hard to break my heart. Okay, that's a lie. But in the last two years, they haven't tried to break my heart at all.
Except in the playoffs. What was my point again?
Tuesday, June 30th - Ted Lilly vs. Ross Ohlendorf
Other than in his last outing, Lilly have been quite good. He has started to slow a bit recently, but overall he's still the Cubs' go-to guy and their likely all-star representative. If anyone can stop the pain, it's Lilly. Of course, generally "stopping the pain" means "killing the victim" after "a long night of torture" and is followed up with "sauteeing the victim's liver in olive oil and serving it up with a light chardonney". However, if could also mean beating the Pirates.
Ross Ohlendorf? I'm sorry, until you get a real name, I can't write about you.
Wednesday, July 1st - Randy Wells vs. Virgil Vasquez
Randy Wells has stopped his losing ways and has begun a nice little winning streak (yes, two games is a streak). Aside from Lilly who gets the nod for a full season's worth of performance, Wells has been the Cubs' best pitcher. With a combination of control and movement, Wells have kept hitters off balance and the Cubs in the game.
Virgil? Jeebus, where do the Pirates get these guys. Virgil threw 6 innings of 2 run ball against the Royals in his only start. Extrapolating from those numbers, I expect him to throw 14 innings of shutout ball against the Cubs and with 42 strikeouts.
The starting pitching is strong and the offense is weak. Will the Pirates come in and sweep the Cubs and send them rocketing into last? Only time will tell.
(although the answer is yes)
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