Series Preview: Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs
Overview: A year ago at this time, the Chicago Cubs were 22-28, and in the middle of a 5 game losing streak that would leave them at 9 games under .500. They didn't have a foot in the grave, but they may have had a few toes still out of the grave.
This season has been a little different. The Cubs are not playing like a Dead to the Neck Up team. In fact, they have the best record in all of baseball, they are playing the shoddy Rockies, and although there are a few annoying question marks ::cough::edmondsleadoffstartingpitchingtheriot::cough:: the Cubs continue to have the best offense in all of baseball - only Philly comes close to Chicago's 296 runs scored - and one of the best rotations as well. (In the NL, only Atlanta has allowed fewer runs than Chicago.)
While I'm excited to see the Cubs host the Rockies, while the pitching is truly clicking, the offense really needs to crank things back up. The Cubs combined to score 8 runs in their recent 3 game sweep. Let's see them score 8 runs in one night. That would be pretty cool. Onward with the matchups:
Thursday, May 29 Jason Marquis vs. Jeff Francis
Wow. If ever there was a match-up in which Jason Marquis should win, it's this one. Jeff Francis is 1-5, with a 6.18 ERA. He's given up 71 hits in 59.2 innings of work. He's yet to win on the road, and he has a near-7 ERA at night. When Cubs players heard that Francis was pitching tonight, they started partying.
Me, I believe in the concept of players and teams being "due" - something that probably leads to Colin's head swelling and exploding. I've always felt that, when an obviously bad match-up occurs the underdog is favored, mostly because statistically speaking, even Anthony Young was due to win eventually. So, maybe it won't be as easy as it should be. But it sure as hell does look easy.
Friday, May 30th Ted Lilly vs. Aaron Cook
Not too long ago, I mentioned Cook as an example of a deadline pitcher who might come to Chicago. Consider this his audition for Jim Hendry. Realistically speaking, he's just not as good as his numbers convey. Cook has never won more than 9 games in a season, he's only tossed 200+ innings once, and his strikeout totals remain very low. In other words, since I believe in "dueness" or the law of averages, Cook is statistically set up to get his ass kicked by the Cubs.
Besides, Ted Lilly has just started to heat up. While Theadore Roosevelt Lilly is bound to have some more rough outings this year, he's really just starting to build a solid run as a starting pitcher. Lilly is "due" to pitch well for a while still.
Saturday, May 31st Ryan Dempster vs. Jorge De La Rosa
The man I have nicknamed Clownsevelt (at least for as long as he follows Lilly in the rotation) is Cookian in how well he's pitched this season, and it should continue on Saturday. Dempster is facing the dull Rockies, and his opponent on Saturday will be The Man with the Nine ERA, De La Rosa. Maybe De La Rosa is "due" to win, much as Dempster is "due" to eat ass.
Or maybe this whole "due" thing is overblown. Doesn't matter. The Cubs should maul these guys.
Prediction: I don't want to say the Cubs will sweep, but perhaps they should sweep. They have two very talented pitchers going in this series, and the worst starter on the team is opposed by a punching bag. Regardless, this is an excellent example of a time when the Cubs could and should be building a big head of steam. The Cardinals have played the NL West twice as often as the Cubs so far, and they still can't keep up with Chicago. The Cubs need to take advantage of their home field and their shoddy opponents and put some more distance between themselves and the rest of the NL Central.
Playing a series in which they average 5 walks, 12 hits, and 7 runs a game should help. Let's see it happen.