Series Preview: Phillies @ Cubs (July 15-18, 2010)
The All-Star Break is over. Thank God. Don't get me wrong, I love the All-Star game, but yesterday is the worst sports day of the year and I'm ready for the season to get going again. Even if it means I have to get frustrated consistently by the 2010 version of the Cubbies. The Cubs start the 2nd half of the season with a 10-game homestand (the longest of the season), and if they don't make serious progress in these first few games of the homestand, it will be time to throw in the towel - that is, if you haven't done so already. Up first is 4 games against the defending NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Phils themselves have had a disappointing season (not near as much as the Cubs, however), and currently sit 4.5 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves. Now is a decent time to play them because even though they won 4 straight heading into the break, half of their IF is on the disabled list in the form of Placido Polanco and Chase Utley. We shall see what the Northsiders can do, if anything, to get the season going.
Thursday: Jamie Moyer (9-8, 4.51) vs Ryan Dempster (7-7, 3.61)
Moyer is still going strong at age 71. I, as well as others I'm sure, keep waiting for the wheels to come completely off..but he's having an alright year. That 4.51 ERA seems artificially high as he's had a couple games where he was just DESTROYED, such as his 1+ inning start out in Boston a few weeks back. However, for the most part he's been pretty good, even if he is a 6 inning pitcher at best. The Cubs usually have issues with soft-tossing/junkball lefties, I don't expect tonight to be any different. Hopefully the good Ryan Dempster shows up.
Friday: Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.41) vs. Ted Lilly (3-8, 4.08)
After a solid 2009, Blanton has gone back to being downright awful this year, and you could make the case that he's been one of the worst starters in baseball this year. That disgusting ERA over 6 is nearly 2 and a half points higher than what it was in 2009, and he's given up 15 homerjobs in just 80 innings. On what should be a hot Friday afternoon at Wrigley, if the wind is blowing out, watch out. That goes the same for Ted Lilly, however. He's had some truly brutal outings as well (namely last Friday at Dodger Stadium), and I'm hoping he's not irrepairably hurting his trade value. Each start he makes, I wonder if it's the last one he'll make in a Cubs uniform.
Saturday: Cole Hamels (7-7, 3.78) vs. Randy Wells (4-7, 4.61)
For me, this is the most intriguing matchup of the 4-game set. A lot of that feeling is because I believe that both of the starting pitchers are better than their records and ERA's indicate. When he's on, Hamels is probably one of the 10 or 15 best pitchers in baseball, and after 2008, there seemed to be no doubt about that. But he regressed in 2009, and like the Phillies team itself, has been up and down in 2010. His last start before the break was a good one, as he shut out the Reds over 7 2/3. As a lefty (albeit with different stuff than Moyer), he's a good bet to cause the Cubs some issues.
Sunday: Roy Halladay (10-7, 2.18) vs. Tom Gorzellany (4-5, 3.16)
Coming into this season, you couldn't find a bigger Roy Halladay fan for fantasy purposes than me. Huge strikeout pitcher moving from the toughest division in the tougher league, going from a bad team to the defending champs. I thought it was reasonable that he might win 25 games. That's not likely to happen, although 20 shouldn't be out of reach. The Phillies have just blown too many games where Halladay has pitched well, and he's been the victim of poor offense a few times as well. A 10-7 mark is fairly pedestrian for a lights out pitcher like Roy.
I'm not sure what to expect from this series. I can't imagine us beating Halladay, and I have a sick feeling we're gonna make Jamie Moyer look like Tom Glavine in his prime tonight. Maybe a split? What do you guys think??