Goatriders of the Apocalypse

GameCast: September 3rd vs. White Sox

GameCast

Carlos Torres (0-0 6.75) vs. Ryan Dempster (8-7, 4.15 ERA)

Story-lines
Ryan Dempster continues to try and salvage the first year of his new deal with the Cubs. At this point he looks like he may not even reach 10 wins, although I reiterate -- and will forever maintain this stance -- that while he's not worth the contract he signed, he's been one of the unluckiest pitchers on the team. Similarly, he was probably a little too lucky in 2008, so I guess everything balances out in the end. Anyway, Dempster squares off against the 27-year-old rookie Carlos Torres, who so far has pitched 9.1 innings in his big league career, allowing 7 earned runs, walking 9, and striking out 8. I just hope his cup of coffee isn't too bitter for him.

Dempster and the Cubs are theoretically competing for a wild card spot. The odds of them getting there are, as measured by the experts, in the neighborhood of 2%. As measured by the writers of this site, though, their odds are closer to Dog Piss Jones, which is another way of saying t'ain't gonna happen. But just to keep the embers of your hope warm in the ashes of this once-promising season, the Cubs will later this month play four games against their primary playoff-spot opponents the Giants, who in turn play 3 games against their primary playoff-spot opponents the Rockies. In theory, the Giants and Rockies could beat each other up a bit, the Cubs could beat up the Giants, and maybe they could sneak in and get wiped out in the first round of the playoffs by the Dodgers again.

It could happen. Then again, I suppose a huge bag of money could fall out of the sky and land right in front of me.

Who's Hot
Derrek Lee - D.P.Lee has had a shockingly good season, and in the past week he's hit 3 homeruns, driven in 5 RBI, and is batting .360. He's joined in this surprisingly productive week by Milton Bradley, who also is batting .360 over the past week but with 2 more doubles and 2 fewer homeruns. Also lighting the team on fire is Aramis Ramirez, batting .348 with 8 RBI.

Who's Not
Ryan Theriot - he's batting .200 this past week. He's joined by Kosuke Fukudome, who's hitting .217 and Jake Fox, whose .125 AVG is offset only by his grand slam.

Conclusions
They are on pace to win 83 games. They are pretty much out of everything but the race for respectability, although Rob might contend with that as well. But with 28 games remaining, and with such a weak schedule in September, I believe that even this erratic, unlucky, inconsistent ballclub can win 15 to 20 games. An 85-77 record is nothing to be excited about; even an 87-75 record isn't spectacular (and that's the best-case scenario), but Colorado has a slightly harder schedule and, hey, bag of money from the sky! Unfortunately, though, at this point the Rockies and Giants would pretty much have to die together in a fiery crash and be replaced by inadequate, scrub minor leaguers for the Cubs to have any kind of chance.

So we're playin' for respect, boys! Go get 'em!

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award