Series Preview: Cubs at Giants (August 9-12)
The only thing colder than San Francisco in August is the play of a certain North Side Chicago baseball team. The Cubs look to bring a little bit of a warm front through the Bay Area by re-inserting hot-head Carlos Zambrano back into the starting rotation for the opening game of the four-game series. In a series likely dominated by Bob Brenly stories of his time on the Giants to take the minds of the fans off the product on the field, the Cubs at least have a chance to play a bit of the spoiler to a Giants team in need of a series win.
Monday, August 9, 2010- Carlos Zambrano (3-6, 5.61 ERA) vs. Madison Bumgarner (4-4, 3.20 ERA)
Welcome back Big Z. In an attempt to build some value for the services of Carlos Zambrano in the offseason, the Cubs have brought the big righty back into the rotation to audition in Silva's absence. That's the good news. The bad news is that most scouts that saw Z pitch in his rehab starts said he looked like a middle-of-the-road starter at best and had mediocre stuff. His time out of the pen since then has confirmed this.
Madison Bumgarner is a top prospect of the Giants that seemed to have lost his way. Initially a fireballer with upper-90s heat on his four-seamer, Bumgarner mysteriously lost the fire and struggled to break 90 at the end of last season. Featuring a low-90s fastball with less develolped change and slider. Despite some success at the major league level, it seems that the lefty lacks the bulldog confidence he once had when his velocity was up. While he is highly deceptive to left-handed hitters, the same cannot be said against righties. Right handed batters are hitting .282 against the young lefty, while lefties are hitting only .196.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010- Ryan Dempster (9-8, 3.76 ERA) vs. Tim Lincecum (11-5, 3.15 ERA)
Demp is coming off a win against the Brewers where he gave up three unearned runs over six innings. It seems at this point in the season that Demp is the most consistent start the Cubs have right now and will tend to at least keep the team in the game. Whether the offense shows up for their end of the bargain has been the challenge all season.
Lincecum is a pitcher you might have heard about. Most likely you've heard of him because of his offseason antics through TMZ or People Magazine. Outside of that, most people around baseball only know about the diminutive righty because he won some award or something for being popular with sportswriters. I expect he will fare decent against us.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010- Tommy G (6-6, 3.51 ERA) vs. Barry Zito (8-6, 3.35 ERA)
Tommy put up his 9th quality start up in his last outing allowing only three earned runs over seven innings. I still contend that the G-man was a great throw in on the otherwise terrible Grabow deal and the continued dividends he's given the club are proof.
Barry Zito is also a lefty that likes to surf, write music, and long walks on the beach. While getting paid millions to be a waste of space in San Francisco, Zito magically realized how to pitch again and is doing so with quite a fair amount of success this season. In his last outing he struck out 10 batters and only allowed 2 earned runs on four hits. Since the All-Star break, Zito has a 2.02 ERA.
Thursday, August 12, 2010- Randy Wells (5-10, 4.37 ERA) vs. Matt Cain (9-9, 3.06 ERA)
Despite having a terrible start to the season, Wells has been pretty consistent as of late. In seven of his past nine games he has given up three or fewer earned runs. Despite a quality start against the Reds in his last outing, Wells was hung with another loss because the Cubs are terrible at supporting their starting pitchers.
Cain is a pitcher that has more or less dominated the Cubs in his young career. Every time he seems to toe the rubber, Cubs hitters look baffled. Given the fact that most of the Cubs hitters would look baffled if I took the mound against them this year, this is not a good omen. Cain has a 5-2 career mark against the Cubs while toting a 2.41 ERA in that span of eight starts.
In what should be a long series, the Cubs have a chance to play hard against a contending team and prove they aren't just mailing it in along with their lame duck manager. It would be nice to see some life, if only to give me hope for the prospects of next year. I've said it once, and I'll likely have it be my mantra for the rest of the year: Entertain me and prove to me that you deserve a spot on next years club.