Man of Wood
Say hello to the final component of the most dominating pitching rotation in all of baseball.
If you were a member of a team opposing the Cubs, how would you feel knowing that you were up against the following:
Ace #1: Last outing: 6 IP, 5 hits, 0 walks, 2 earned runs
Season highlights: 7-4 record, 18 walks in 16 starts and 96.2 innings pitched
Ace #2: Last outing: 6 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 runs
Season highlights: 5-1 record, 2.66 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 9.09 k's per 9, 18 walks in 10 games pitched
Ace #3: Last outing: 8 IP, 3 hits, 3 walks, 0 runs
Season highlights: 5-4 record, 8.40 k's per 9, 1.19 WHIP, 3.93 ERA and declining
Ace #4: Last outing: 6 IP, 2 hits, 2 walks, 1 earned run, 9 k's
Season highlights: ok, fine, not much yet, except 11.69 k's per 9
Maybe it's a stretch to call Greg Maddux, Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, and Kerry Wood all aces. Then again, maybe it's not. No one would disagree, however, that when these guys are on, they're utterly unhittable. And aside from the fact that they're all Cubs, there's no reason to assume that they couldn't put together a long month of sheer dominance. Or for that matter, an entire half season of dominance.
But let's not get too excited. Maddux is old and relatively inconsistant. Prior has to throw a few more games before I can fully believe that he's the Franchise again. Zambrano has been incredibly inconsistant. And Wood has never proven that he can do it for a full season.
But what if? What if these guys can?
The answer is probably an NL Wild Card berth. That doesn't mean the Cubs are playoff ready. Oh no, not as long as Johnnie B. thinks it's prudent to keep Corey and Neifi! at the top of the order. In fact, I know some of you have grown tired of me harping on that fact, but it's only because I can't emphasize enough just how bad it is that the Cubs lack a solid top of the order. Put it to you this way: I will moan and complain until something is done. If you don't like it, feel free to send me $5 through paypal and I'll find something else to harp on about. (Hey, I'm nothing if not bribable!)
Later today, the Cubs will bank on Greg Maddux to keep this latest winning streak alive. After that, the Cubs will be in Washington, where they'll send out 23-year-old Jerome Williams.
Williams is the wild card here. It's possible that he's the best #5 pitcher this team has had in years. In his last start against the Brewers, Williams threw 7 innings of 3-hit, 2-run ball. Then to top it all off, he threw 2 no-hit innings in relief against the White Sox. If he can even only duplicate his 2004 season (10-7, 4.25 ERA), then the Cubs are in business for the rest of 2005.
By the way, just in case you don't know, today is the last day to vote your favorite Cubs into the All Star game. Do us all a favor and vote for Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Michael Barrett. All three are within range of being voted into the game, although two at least should go regardless of whether or not they overcome the players in front of them. It'd be nice to see some Cubs representation.