Series Preview: Cubs at Tampa Bay
This preview will be abbreviated, because, in Full Geek Effect I will be watching the Incredible Hulk tonight.
The Cubs are travelling to Tampa for what will prove to be a very tough three games. The Rays are hard to beat in Tampa, and they will be using some of their best, most unbeatable pitchers in this series. I've been joking with myself that this is a World Series Preview - and if that's the case, then you can bet the Cubs will be decimated by the Rays, if only to give us long-settled stress about Tampa come October.
The Pitching Match-Ups
Tuesday, June 17th Clownsevelt vs. Scott Kazmir
Ryan Dempster, as he makes his continued bid to pitch in the All Star Game, will be squaring off against Tampa ace Scott Kazmir. For those of you scoring at home, Kazmir is 4-0 while pitching in Tampa, and his home ERA is 0.35. 0.35!!! After careful evaluation, it is clear that Kazmir is due to get his ass whupped. Luckily, he's a lefty, and we all know how incredibly well the Cubs do against lefties they've never faced before.
...oh, wait. S-word.
Wednesday, June 18th - The Big Moose vs. Andy Sonnanstine
Carlos has been struggling as of late. He's not really breezing through his opponents, even in games where he gives up zero runs. He's been walking a lot of guys, he's been giving up a lot of hits, and most importantly, he's been activating his self-destruct button late in games. Fortunately for the Cubs, when Carlos self-destructs, he just tends to hop around and curse loudly into the night air.
Andy Sonnanstine, apart from having a pretty funny name - Israelites vs. the Sonnanstines, Son of the Stine, I could go on but you still wouldn't laugh - is a pretty tough cookie. He's 25, he's already won more games this year than he did all of last season (7-3 vs. 6-10), but his ERA is 4.89 and he physically resembles Mark Prior if The Ex Franchise contracted AIDS and became a loan shark. (Thin and creepy, my friends.)
Thursday, June 19th - Irish vs. James Shields
Gallagher is coming off a tough loss to Toronto, and he really needs to demonstrate that he can pitch past the 5th and 6th innings. James Shields is 26, has a 4-5 record, but also maintains a home ERA of 1.72. Also, he resembles that guy who stole Cameron's car in Ferris Bueller. I don't know how that really plays a part in things, but I've got little to say about this guy, aside from the fact that he's likely to dominate our offense.
Woof, tough series. The Cubs have a great offense, and that's an advantage. They've never faced the Rays before though, and that's problematic. They've been playing great baseball lately, though, and that's an advantage. The first pitcher they face is a lefty, and that's problematic.
Put it to you this way. The best team in baseball would have trouble taking more than 1 of 3 from the Rays at home with that pitching rotation. ...wait a second, the Cubs are the best team in baseball? How 'bout that? Just to give them the benefit of the doubt, and because Tampa's not intimidating anybody with their 6-7 record in June, I think the Cubs can take this series. In fact, I'll go so far as to say this...
If Chicago takes 2 of 3, I will be awed, amazed, and confident in this team's ability to win more games than any other team in baseball in 2008.
If Chicago takes 1 of 3, no bubbles no troubles, it'll just make for a more interesting October when Tampa's our opponent.
If Chicago gets swept, I'll slap the panic button and call for the immediate acquisition of another ace starting pitcher. Not that I won't be doing that anyway.