Gamecast (July 10, 2010) Cubs @ Dodgers
I don't know about you guys but I'm feeling more optimistic about this team all of sudden. Oh sure, they lost last night but it wasn't really a "team" effort. It was all Ted Lilly's doing and while that hurts his trade value somewhat, he's going to be off the team very soon anyway. The offense is waking up and that's a good thing. If the rest of the starters can keep up their general streak of good starts, I like the team's chances of having a decent second half (once again, no, I don't think they will be contending at any point but I do think making an assault on .500 will bode well for 2011 and beyond).
Today's Matchup: Tom Gorzelanny (68IP, 3.37ERA, 3.97xFIP) vs John Ely (77.1IP, 4.07ERA, 3.86xFIP)
The key for the Gorz is of course to keep his walks down. If he walks more than 2, chances are he's going to give up some runs, less than 2 and he can be dominant. On the surface, this looks like a pretty even matchup in pitching. We faced Ely earlier this year when he was on a roll and he went 7.1 IP with 1 ER (2W, 4K). Ely keeps the ball on the ground pretty well, has decent command and a very nice change up (especially against LHB's). In fact, he has pitched significantly better vs lefties than against RHB's this year. I think today would be a good day to use Theriot at second base against him rather than Fontenot.
Who's Hot: Obviously Aramis Ramirez is on fire and has gotten his BA over .200 for the first time since the start of the year. Last night he drew a walk, with a single, double and homer. Also Marlon Byrd had a great night last night and pushed his BA back up to .319. It'd be nice if he could walk now and again. He has a BABIP of .349 for the season which should come down a little and his OBP is going to be ugly at the end of the season if he ends up with a 3.5% walk rate. Ouch.
Who's Not: Koyie Hill started again last night. He hasn't played in a while but his wOBA is now down to a pitcher like .229!!! Holy crap. I do think the Cubs would be smart to remove him from the roster next year and go with either Wellington Castillo or Robinson Chirinos as their backup catcher. Either guy is going to be a better hitter than Hill by so much that whatever drop off in defense is going to pale in comparison.
Conclusion: The Cubs are playing better. They are hitting the crap out of the ball mostly because of the return of Aramis Ramirez. I'd love to see the Cubs win the next two and go into the All Star break with some momentum.