Series Preview: your third-place Cubs vs. the fifth-place Astros
Hot on the heels of thrashing the Phillies, the Cubs continue their home stand by hosting the 37-55 Houston Astros.
Hey, remember when the Astros were perennial competitors? That was back in the day of 'roids and growth. These days, Houston's lucky to win 70. Roy Oswalt, whose nickname officially became "Trade Bait" not too long ago, has to be begging the baseball gods to be unloaded on a large market team. The guy has a 3.12 ERA and -- more impressively -- a 1.07 WHIP, and he's one bad outing from having twice as many losses as wins. Ouch.
The Cubs, meanwhile, are in limbo. They're starting to look good. Things are getting better. Aramis Ramirez raised his batting average by 40 points in 8 games. Ryan Theriot realized he sucks and is making adjustments to his game to suck slightly less. These are the greatest days of our lives, folks. Soak 'em in and enjoy 'em.
Can you believe that there are actually people out there who get paid to write about sports that are advocating the Cubs to hold off on Fire Sale 2010 because they're on a "high note" at the moment?
I mean, c'mon! There gets to be a point in every disappointing season in which the action off the field is exceedingly more interesting than the action on the field. We're at that point, so let's see some wheelin' and dealin'!
...no? No wheeling? No dealing? Fine, then. Let's look at the match-ups while I pout.
Monday, July 19th, 7:05PM - Carlos Silva (9-3, 3.45 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (6-11, 4.97 ERA)
Carlos Silva is looking less like a golden goose every single outing. Take his last one, for instance. 1.1 innings of work, 6 earned runs, 345 crying orphans. Not cool, Carlos. Not cool.
But, if Silva is ever going to get his 10th win, it's going to be tonight. He faces Wandy Rodriguez, who -- apart from having the most embarrassing first name in professional sports -- has about as much pitching talent as the face men of Milli Vanilli have singing talent. Blame it on the lame*.
(*If you're old enough to get this joke, you probably have better things to do with your life than spending your midlife crisis reading this blog...)
Tuesday, July 20th, 7:05PM - Ryan Dempster (8-7, 3.57 ERA) vs. Wesley Wright (0-0, 5.59 ERA)
Dempster is one good second half away from almost justifying the ridiculous contract that Jim Hendry gave him two years ago. So far, so good -- he's got a respectable 1.20 WHIP and is striking out as many batters as innings he's pitched. His only problem? He's wasting what would have been a good season on a baseball team that can feel a justified sense of accomplishment for climbing back into third place.
He faces Wesley Wright, according to ESPN. I'm skeptical about this because Wright has never started a game in the major leagues. Ever. But what he has done is pitch 110 innings in his career as a reliever, for which he has surrendered 110 hits, 62 walks (that's a 1.56 WHIP), 20 homers, and 64 earned runs (career ERA of 5.52). I don't know about you, but if the Cubs have to square off against this jabrone, I won't complain. The Cubs need to face more journeymen relief pitchers with career ERAs in the 5's.
Wednesday, July 21st, 1:20PM - Ted "Farewell Tour" Lilly (3-8, 4.07 ERA) vs. Brett Myers (7-6, 3.35 ERA)
Ted Mother-F*cking Lilly. The best lefty pitcher the Cubs have had since our writer Rob Letterly was still young enough to poop his pants and get away with it. Sadly, his twilight campaign in Chicago is not going as we'd hoped it would. It's not that he's been bad, per se, although he does have an ERA of 8.83 in the month of July. It's more that when he has been bad, he's sucked worse than a socialist banker. But chin up, Cub fans. In his last outing, he managed to drop his ERA by a whole 0.01, while striking 10 Phillies out in 7 innings of work. W00t!
Lilly and the Cubs will be hoping to continue their dominance of the Phillies on Wednesday, as they square off against Philadelphia alumni Brett Myers, who's basically the One Good Thing in the Astros rotation this year. (He also has a neck that is literally as wide as his head, and a goatee that only Nic Cage could love.) The bad news is, Brett has pitched really, really well in July -- he's 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA. The good news, though, is this: he's bound to get smacked around sooner or later -- possibly even as soon as Wednesday against a *snicker* dangerous Cubs lineup.
Just think! If the Cubs sweep the Astros -- not an impossible scenario by any means -- then they will be 45-51. That's spitting distance of .500! Then, the Cubs only need to put the hammer to the Cardinals, before traveling to Houston to do some more smiting. Who knows? By the end of the month, the Cubs could be a .500 team!
Before you poo all over that thrilling concept, consider this: the Cubs are a broken team desperately in need of scrapping what they have and rebuilding as much as possible. Therefore, nothing could be worse than a two-week resurgence in which, for long enough to render their valuable players untradeable, the Cubs set the ball on fire with a holy vengeance.
It's just Cub enough to actually happen. But hell, I can think of worse things...