Series Preview (July 23-25, 2010): Cardinals @ Lifeless Cubs
The Redbirds return to Wrigley Field this weekend, their 2nd trip to Wrigley this year, to drive the final nails in the coffin of the Cubs 2010 season. Despite being 1-hit yesterday at the hands of a filthy Cole Hamels, the Cards have been red hot, and go into play 11 games ahead of the hometown nine in the standings. An optimist would look at the situation and say, "Well if we get a horseshoe up our ass and sweep them and are then only 8 out...", but I think we're all smarter than that. For me, the last good chance to turn the season around came when we had the then-first place Reds in town for 4 games the 4th of July weekend and dropped 3 or 4. That was it for me. I expect the Cubs to at best win 2 of 3 this weekend, but likely only 1, and then the firesale starts. That's the only thing we fans truly have to look forward to: What young prospects will we get for veterans like Ted Lilly and Derrek Lee, and perhaps guys like Ryan Theriot and Xavier Nady. Let's take a look at the weekend's pitching matchups..
Friday @ 1:20: Jeff Suppan (0-3, 4.20) vs. Randy Wells (4-7, 4.33) - I'm excited that the Cubs get to face Suppan, mostly because I know he's awful. He's a 5 inning pitcher at this point - a slug that can maybe if he's lucky keep the Cardinals in the game, but isn't going to shut anyone down. He's been very average since the Cardinals picked him up - and average is twice as good as he was with the Brewers. If the wind is blowing out today - Soup could be in trouble. Wells has been pretty average this year, but he's seemed to solve his early-season bouts of awfulness in the first inning. He's got a 1.66 ERA in his 3 starts this month, including last time out versus the Phightin Phils where he threw 7 shutout innings. Having grown up a Cardinals fan near St. Louis, I wonder if Wells remembers his last start @ Wrigley vs. the Cards.. a gem on May 28th where he didnt get one out before being pulled. I'm hoping that won't be the case today.
Saturday @ 12:05: Blake Hawksworth (4-5, 4.85) vs. Tom Gorzellany (5-5, 3.12) - Hawksworth is a guy who seemed to be a perpetual prospect who never got his chance with the big club until late last year when he was added to the scuffling Cardinals bullpen and he thrived, allowing 29 hits in 40 relief innings. This year has been the opposite. His ERA doesnt tell the story of how many baserunners he's allowed. In 59 1/3 innings, he's allowed 80 hits, 8 HR, and 25 walks. That's a lot of runners reaching base. His last time out he got the win against Philly despite allowing 13 batters to reach in 6 innings. Opposing him will be the magnificent Gorzo, who has proven himself to be quite steady since being re-inserted into the Cubs rotation. In those three starts, he's allowed just 6 ER in 17 2/3 innings. He's had off and on problems with wildness though, so that's something to watch.
Sunday @ 7:05: Chris Carpenter (11-3, 3.05) vs. Ryan Dempster (8-7, 3.70) - This was supposed to be Carlos Silva's start, but he was pushed back another day by Lou Piniella. Something's amiss with that guy, and I'm starting to think maybe a 15-day DL stint wouldnt be the worst idea. He's been struggling of late leading up to last Monday's start against the Astros when, to borrow a phrase from my buddy Brad, Silva got his tits lit on fire. So taking his place is Ryan Dempster, who scuffled himself against HOU. But he stuck it out for 5 innings and saved an overworked bullpen in a game the Cubs ended up winnning 14-7. He's been our steadiest starting pitcher, in my opinion. Carp will be starting for the Cards, obviously the best pitcher they'll throw this series. He's death on the Cubs, and under the lights on national TV, there's no reason to expect anything different this time. This should be the best pitched game of the series.
Cubs/Cardinals @ Wrigley on what should be a gorgeous summer weekend. Should be a good time, regardless of how bad the Cubs are struggling. Go Cubs!