Series Preview: Cubs vs. Astros
I remember back in April when I used to look condescendingly at the Astros. Man, they were a bad team. Thank God the Cubs were better put-together than them...
These days, I find myself looking at Houston with a longing I cannot describe on a family-friendly site. (Of course, part of it has to do with their tacos...)
Amazingly, the Astros actually have a chance of finishing the year with a .500-or-better record. On the path to their gloriocrity? The Chicago Cubs, whose poor play is dejecting, horrifying, and other things that end in "ing," but is still better than the Pirates.
On with the Preview...
Monday, September 6th - Casey Coleman (1-1, 5.76 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (11-12, 3.71 ERA)
Casey Coleman. 23 years old, and in his first 25 innings as a major leaguer, he's surrendered 27 hits and 10 walks, while notching 11 strikeouts. I believe I may have mentioned in the past -- with guys like Coleman in mind -- that if the Cubs shock us by reaching the playoffs in 2011, it will in part be on the arms of young pitchers like Coleman. Maybe he'll work out, maybe not, but he's 24-13 in his last two years in the minors, with a career minor league ERA of 3.73. His stuff's not dynamic, but he's a potential good'un.
Wandy Rodriguez is a middle-of-the-road starter with a career WHIP of 1.36, a career ERA of 4.22, and 62 career wins to 64 losses. He's a great #3 or #4 pitcher, which means he's got a decent shot of beating the crappy Cubs offense today.
Tuesday, September 7th - Carlos Silva (10-5, 3.92 ERA) vs. Nelson Figueroa (4-2, 2.83 ERA)
Hey! Carlos Silva's on his way back. He last pitched on August 1st, lasting 0.1 innings before slothing his way off the mound onto the disabled list. Maybe he'll be rejuvenated and effective again -- he sure as hell can't be much worse than he was in July, when he went 2-2 with a 6.86 ERA.
He faces Nelson Figueroa, a 36-year-old journeyman with a very interesting career. Nelson has been pitching in the major leagues ever since 2000, but he's never started more than 13 games (in 2001) and he's never made more than 30 appearances (back in 2002). None of this changes these two facts: apart from 2005-2007, when he was in the Mexican/Chinese baseball leagues, he's pitched at least 28.1 innings every year, and his career ERA is actually a respectable 4.30.
In other words, he's the epitome of a journeyman, and if he ever pitched for the Cubs he'd probably be a fan favorite -- it's easy to root for the underdog.
Wednesday, September 8th - Randy Wells (6-12, 4.56 ERA) vs. Brett Myers (10-7, 3.02 ERA)
Randy Wells continues to struggle, and he squares off against, probably, the toughest Astros pitcher on Wednesday.
Anyone want to bet that Wells is out of the big leagues within 3 years?
Both teams are playing for pride, but Houston has a clear objective -- if they sweep the Cubs, then they'll only be 5 games under .500. The Cubs, meanwhile, continue to audition Mike Quade in the managerial role. Dude's 8-4 so far. I think, though, that it's inevitable that Sandberg gets the gig.
Or, at least, that's what I'm hoping for at this point, for reasons previously mentioned.