Series Preview - Cubs vs Reds
(Note from Kurt: Because I am an idiot, I wrote my own series preview. Rather than stick you with mine as well as Jason's, I have cannibalized mine to reflect my more philosophical thoughts about the Cubs and Reds, while cutting and pasting my opinions about the pitching match-ups into Jason's post, if only because I spent a lot of time on it. I hope he doesn't mind)
I'm just sitting here waiting to get through to Comcast to uncancel my cancelled cable long enough for RCN to cancel my cable for me.
Yeah...I don't get it either, but it gives me time to think about the Cubs (although holding the phone between by ear and my shoulder is threatening to leave me looking like some kind of twisted hunchback. Maybe time to switch sides...nope, my neck isn't flexible in that direction. Damn.).
The Cubs have survived the horrors of Florida (bad driving, alligators, old people) and Atlanta (old alligators, bad people, driving) and emerged in better condition than when they left. I'll admit that I was scared of the Florida trip before the weekend started, but as Rob stated, I had nothing to fear but fear itself. This is, of course, complete crap. There are tons of tings to fear. For example:
- Flying monkeys
- Excessively sharp cheddar
- The color puce
But few of these things directly relate to the Cubs, so I'm saying we're safe for now. Let's sit back, enjoy the ride, and PRAY TO SWEET, HOLY JESUS THAT THEY DON'T BLOW IT.
Cubs vs. Reds
Tuesday, August 19th, 7:05 PM
Johnny Cuedo vs. Rich Harden - The first time through the order, Johnny Cuedo has looked more like Ruben Quevedo (give or take a cheeseburger) before settling down, starting a family, and buying a home in Decentville (population: meh). So, if the Cubs can get to Cuedo early, they can build a little lead and make life easy of Harden.
Speaking of, Harden has been ever-so-awesome since joining the Cubs. Even in his last start, when he kind of sucked, he was awesome. Harden is completely unhittable and pretty much the only way he can get into trouble is if he starts walking people and giving up the home. Lucky for the Cubs, Mr. Three-True-Outcomes, Adam Dunn, has been shipped out.
Kurt: Harden has been hard-luck with the Cubs so far. He's only won 2 games in his 6 starts, despite a 1.80 ERA in the NL. As a team, the Cubs are 4-2 with him, the only 2 losses stemming from games in which the Cubs scored a grand whopping total of 2 runs. So far, Harden has been everything promised. He has perhaps the best stuff of any pitcher on the Cubs staff, and he has - and often delivers upon - the ability to shut down the opposition in every start.
Johnny Cueto, meanwhile, is 22 years old, and he's thrown 110 or more pitches 6 times this season. He's also had an ERA of 5.67 since the All Star Break, but Baker shockingly showed restraint in his last start, allowing him to throw only 5 innings and 95 pitches.
Wednesday, August 20th, 7:05 PM
Bronson Arroyo vs. Ted Lilly - Arroyo, he of the pointy toed delivery, has been just this side of terrible this year. And by "this side," I mean the terrible side of terrible. He's super annoying with his array of crap that he throws up there, but with the way the Cubs have been hitting, they should be able to turn around a few his changeups.
Lilly has been pretty excellent since the All-Star break. The Reds have hammered him pretty well before, but that's all going to change. It just has to our I'll cry.
Kurt: Theodore Roosevelt Lilly has been working hard to get his ERA below 4. It's been a season-long project, dating back to April 22nd, when he was able to drop his ERA from 9.16 to 7.30 after 6 solid innings of 1-run ball. In fact, if you subtract his first 4 outings from the records, Lilly has gone 12-3 this year with an ERA of 3.66. I'm pretty confident in saying that you will find no other team in baseball whose 4th best pitcher has done as well.
Bronson Arroyo, meanwhile, is perhaps the closest thing the Reds have to an ace. He's actually pitched better since the All Star Break, going 3-3 but with a 4.31 ERA. He's only faced the Cubs once this year, in a game where our beloved offense took him for a whole lot of rides. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the batting practice session will continue tomorrow night.
Thursday, August 21st, 1:20 PM CT
Carlos Zambrano vs. Aaron Harang - Aaron is the latest example of Dustification and he hasn't been remotely the same pitcher since Johnny B. Wristband rolled in. In the past, I was always terrified of Harang, but that was before Dusty got ahold of him. Now he's batting practice.
Carlos has struggled pretty mightly in his last couple of starts. He's not injured, right? Right?
Right. Here's to Carlos bouncing back.
Kurt: Once or twice a year, Carlos will go through one of those scary stretches where his pitches look flat and opponents wail on him. His last 2 starts have been that way - after giving up 9 earned runs in 4.1 innings of work against St. Louis, Carlos "improved" against the Marlins by giving up "only" 5 runs in 6 innings of work. I was watching his last start against the Marlins with my brother, who noted that, for a guy who just gave up a bunch of runs, he sure did seem to be in a jovial mood in the dugout. I noted at the time that while he was laughing and smiling then, he sure as hell wasn't too happy earlier in the game when the Marlins had lit him up like a firecracker. The Big Moose may be quick to forget, but I wouldn't question for a second his intensity and passion in a game, because he'd probably kill me if I did. The toothless Reds may be an ideal opportunity for Zambrano to dominate.
Aaron Harang needs to join the queu of pitchers whose careers have been laid to ruin by Dusty Baker. Since he pitched 4 innings in relief in that ridiculous 18-inning loss to the Padres on May 25th, Harang has gone 1-8 with an ERA of 8.26. Reds fans have to be furious. Harang was a should've-been Cy Young pitcher before this season. Now, he's a wreck.