Trevor Cahill (5-2, 2.91) vs. Big Z (2-4, 6.05)
Well kids, at least we got one against those pesky White Sox. And in what fashion. We may just spill our winning ways into the gulf of baseball and claim that BP Cup afterall. I feel like I am beating a dead horse (not nearly as fun as a pinata due to the lack of candy) but the Cubs go as far as their offense. The good news is, the A's are close to anemic in terms of offense as well.
One sign of the A's desperation for a bat, they have traded for King Valley Fever (not as cool as Disco Fever), Conor Jackson to add to their OF rotation. CoJack has had a hard time establishing exactly what type of player he is, batting anywhere from leadoff to cleanup... and hitting about .238 on the year.
Marlon Byrd- Marlon seems to have his bat back after a brief hiatus. Over his past 7, Byrd is batting .500 with 2 HR and an .889 SLG. Gotta love it when he is going.
John Grabow- Well, he had a rehab start, meaning he's on track to make it to the club. Bad news... he got lit up. Badly. Even minor leaguers are torching the guy. Can we get a do over on that contract?
On paper this should be a struggle to plate a run. Maybe we can have a second pitcher flirt with a no-hitter tonight. I'll be there working my magic and hoping I don't get poured on, so I'll keep you posted as best as my phone internet will allow me to. And as I finish this it starts pouring...awesome.
Well, we're here. Not even I can say the Cubs have any kind of a shot anymore. I mean, I wouldn't say they are completely out of it but they are on the precipise. 8 games under .500 and 8.5 games out. Even if they aren't quite that bad, that is their record and that is where they are as they get ready to try to avoid the sweep of the Chicago White Sox today. I think the things we need to watch for are for the future and not for today. I enjoy baseball so I will continue to enjoy this season but it's fairly obvious this group of Cubs players are pretty much at an end.
Who's Hot: Rumours of potential trades and looking forward to 2011 and beyond. Marlon Byrd has hit .536 in the last week and is starting to look like a potential all star. It's surprising but the Cubs seem to have up to 3 all stars on this team. Byrd is second in the NL in batting average and I keep wondering when his crappy walk rate is going to hurt the Cubs. It hasn't yet.
Who's Not: Kosuke Fukudome is down to a slash line of .276/.370/.453 for the season and has pretty much stopped hitting since the calender turned to May. I think he needs to turn into a quasi part time player and we need to get Colvin up to 5 to 6 starts a week at Fuku expense. Fukudome isn't a bad player. He isn't even a bad regular but the Cubs can't afford to keep sitting Colvin and playing Fuku every day.
Conclusion: Ted Lilly is pitching today and his number of starts for the Cubs is likely to be lessoning. As you see him pitch, realize his time in a Cub uniform is coming to an end and remember how awesome he has been for us the last four years. Let's win this game on ESPN, enjoy the off day and get ready for Jake Fox and the A's.
This is a Fox game and thus I will not see it. Maybe that is for the best after yesterday's debacle.
The season's slipping away and once again, Carlos Silva is called upon to keep us barely relevant. So here goes:
Who's Hot: Carlos Silva is 8-0. I don't believe single season records tell us much so let's look at some other things. Silva has a 2.93 ERA which is 16th in the NL. He has a 3.80 xFIP which is tied for 12th in the NL. He has a K/BB ratio of 3.92 which is 3rd in the NL. He is behind only Roy Halladay with 1.6 BB/9. He is pitching great and is likely to make the All Star team.
Who's Not: The Cubs have been putrid on offense this month. Starlin Castro has "led" the way with a .161 batting average with only 1 extra base hit (a double) and 2 unintentional walks for the month. I think the kid needs a couple of days off.
Conclusion: Cubs stink. Carlos Silva doesn't. I expect to win this game. Which probably means we won't.
Ryan Dempster (4-5, 3.76) vs. Dave Bush (1-5, 4.97)
Well, it was nice to see an offensive outburts last night. Luckily it was the nationally televised game for documentation purposes, because I am pretty sure that no one in Chicago was actually watching that game. The big story for the day is that the Cubs are marching out the bench, which means wonderfully quirky lineups that include Chad Tracy as a cleanup hitter. No, I don't get it either. But hey, we won last night, so for now, Lou is a genius again.
Cubs look to get back on track and get a series win while picking up ground on the recently-swept Cardinals. With Dave Bush on the rubber, that is a strong possibilty.
Byrd and Soto: Both went yard twice last night and the Cubs had a total of 5 HR. Byrd has been particularly hot and is hitting .481 on the month.
Ryan Theriot's ability to get on base- He just bugs me. He swings in situations he shouldn't, he just recently figured out what a walk is, and has averaged 1 extra base hit in the past two months.
Home Run Derby. Preferably one sided and only including Cubs hitters.
Carlos Zambrano (1-4, 6.14 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (4-5, 4.66 ERA)
Well, that sucked. Ted Lilly once again got screwed from a win, this time by someone other than himself. The Cubs look to even the series up tonight with Big Z, a man very familiar with the comforts of Miller Park. Including his no-hitter, which wasn't against the Brewers, Z is 4-0 with a 1.96 ERA in his last five starts at Miller Park. Z faced the Brewers at Wrigley on April 15 and gave up four runs in five innings. I expect a much more consistent (oxymoron?!) Z tonight than the one we saw in April, or even his last start, for that matter.
As I stated in my Series Preview, Wolf is one of those guys that seems to give us trouble. Luckily, he's had the affinity to help other teams "clog the bases" this season. If the Cubs can show a little patience, I think they can see their bats awaken for a few crooked numbers tonight.
Lou Piniella- This is more a hope than anything. I'd like to see him light a fire under someone. Anyone. I'm kind of tired of his lack of fire and inability to speak cohesively in a press conference.
The Cubs- Dropped 6 of the last 8. Hard to point at one particular person when they whole team is sort of letting you down.
Polish will win the sausage race. Also, the Cubs will win.
Carlos Silva (7-0, 3.12) vs. Dana Eveland (3-4, 6.45)
The Cubs head back to Pittsburgh to see if they can at least salvage a game in this "series" that was extended because of a rainout. Although it doesn't have as much draw as the "Z Returns" headline this game originally had, today the Cubs will feature a pitcher that has to be considered "ace-like" for the staff so far in terms of his results. Silva's success this season is demonstrated by his record, and he hopes to keep it up today.
The only other real headline for this game is just how much the Pirates have owned the Cubs this year. This is a very big swing from last year, and hopefully one the Cubs can rectify with a win today.
Theriot will once again be in the leadoff spot with Baker at 3B and Xavier Nady patrolling Right Field. Maybe Theriot gets a walk again. Who knows... I'm dreaming big.
Still on hold until I see some sort of sustained success from a Cubs player. This will likely be active tomorrow. I need to just start finding exciting news about Cubs players that is worthwhile putting here.
Can the Cubs shake the Pirates hold on domination over them? We will see. Most importantly, what do you want to see this lineup do today?
Jeff Karstens (1-1, 4.78) vs. Ted Lilly (1-4, 3.63)
In what is a season-long struggle with mediocrity, the Cubs continue to be owned by the Pirates. The good news is, the big storyline for the Cubs is the Ted Lilly revival tour. He's coming off his best start of the year and looks to build on, or at least match his success... and maybe get "W" this time. Being the unstoppable force of nature he is, I think Lilly does just that.
The other storyline is that it's June, which seems to be the make or break month for most teams. In 2007, the Cubs saw a surge that eventually led to a division title. The Cubs look to repeat this success and make the division a bit more competitive while the Reds and Cards keep each other in check.
Um... Ted Lilly. Dude went seven strong and only allowed 3 hits in his last start. Even had a few strikeouts, which was reassuring.
See: the bench for today's game. Theriot ignores that OBP and walks exist. Lee and Ramirez are nowhere near 3 and 4 hitters right now. Soto could use a pick me up.
We should win this game. Start June off on the right foot with a strong effort from Teddy Roosevelt, and get some big contributions from role players that get a start tonight.
Randy Wells (3-3, 4.79 ERA) vs. Ross Ohlendorf (0-3, 5.11 ERA)
There are couple interesting story lines going today. First off, cue the celebration music......John Grabow goes on the DL with suckitis. Well, apparently it was a knee injury, but we all know the REAL reason. This should make the bullpen much better just addition by subtraction.
In his place, the Cubs call up prospect Andrew Cashner. I think it is a good move. It allows Cashner to get a little big league time before eventually becoming a starter maybe next year.
The other story line is Randy Wells trying to rebound from Friday's 16-pitch outing against the Cardinals. The Cubs have a lot of starting pitching options, so Wells can't afford to be bad for long.
Cub pitchers not named Wells, Gorzelanny and Grabow - Really, the Cubs have pitched well, but these guys hurt the Cubs this past week. Even Bob Howry has shown signs of life.
Alfonso Soriano - Fonzi's just has two hits in his last 18 AB's. We knew it would happen, but usually the Cubs have somebody else step up. That just hasn't happened this year.
Like Kurt said, it's time for the Cubs to put up or shut up. Hopefully, Cashner is success and the cubs get rolling.
Ryan Dempster (3-4, 3.31 ERA) vs.
Adam Wainwright (6-3, 2.38 ERA)
The Cubs stand six games out with Memorial Day just tomorrow. Why is this important? This is the first major landmark of the season. It is when teams start to figure out if they are contenders or pretenders.
Yesterday, the Cubs got exactly what they needed with Carlos Silva pitching his way in the All-Star game. How crazy is that? He probably gets six more starts before the All-Star Game, so it's possible that he finishes with 10 wins at this rate.
The Cubs could use a win today to pull within one game of .500. With a win tomorrow as well the Cubs are .500 heading into June. But to do that the Cubs must get by Adam Wainwright, who is coming off a 1-0 loss to the Padres.
Wainwright, not Chris Carpenter, is the Cardinal Ace, so this game will tough given the Cubs lack of hitting of late.
Mike Fontenot - He's crazy hot right now. He added two triples yesterday to the same place. Will he start to take AB's from Ryan Theriot? In his last seven games, Fontenot has a 2.635 OPS.
Ryan Theriot - He's only got four hits in his last six games with no walks. I have a feeling this is going to end poorly for "The Riot."
This is going to be tough for the Cubs. Hopefully, Wainwright doesn't have his A-stuff and the Cubs can get a series win.
Carlos Silva (6-0, 3.52 ERA) vs. Adam Ottavino (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Ok, if I told you the season hinged on today's start, would you believe me? Suspend belief for a second and say you do. Now, who would you want to start? Carlos Zambrano --eh...Ted Lilly--eh...Randy Wells--we saw that yesterday. Ok, how about Carlos Silva? If I asked you that question two months ago, I might have been laughed out of GROTA. Now, it's not that crazy, because Silva has thrown great.
Granted, I don't think Silva is an ace, but he has thrown so much better than any of us thought. The Cubs really need to win today, because tomorrow is going to be tough with Adam Wainwright on the mound.
Mike Fontenot - He needs and deserves some starts. He's for his last five with two doubles and triple.
Derrek Lee - He continues to hit, but the Cubs chose not to pitch yesterday.
Marlon Byrd - He's 2 for 20 in his last six games. That's rough. Byrd earned his place in the Cub fans hearts earlier this season with his hard play. We can all hope this is just a mini-slump.
Starlin Castro - It was bound to happen, but Castro is in his first slump. It will be interesting to see how he deals with it in the field.
The Cubs and Cardinals are both looking for a series win, but the Cubs were dealt a huge blow yesterday when Wells couldn't get out of the first inning. Lets hope that Silva has better luck today.