Carlos Silva (0-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Felipe Paulino (0-0, 7.20 ERA)
Well, the Cubs couldn't finish off a sweep yesterday even though they were able to score six runs. In the end, it was the bullpen that couldn't keep the Brewers off the board and allowed them to score three runs in the final few innings.
Today the Cubs face off against the 1-win Houston Astros. Astros were able to claw out a victory yesterday against the Cardinals. This is good because we will avoid leading off Sportscenter or Baseball Tonight when the Astros take at least one of these games.
The Cubs will send out Silva "The Hut" for his second start. He was quite good in his first start, and maybe he has fingured it out. This start is important for Silva, because Ted Lilly is coming back. Of course, Silva could make a good bullpen guy with the pen in shambles so far this season. I say it is more than 70% likely he ends up in the pen.
Derrek Lee - After a day off, Lee hits a home run and is back to form.
Aramis Ramirez - I know he golfed a HR yesterday, but he doesn't look good at the plate. He's only 5 for 35 so far, but he has 5 BB.
The Cubs really need to bury teams like this if they even want to think about competing this year. Hopefully, they can get off early and finally cruise to a win and save the pen.
Carlos Zambrano (1-1, 11.88 ERA) vs. Jeff Suppan (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Raise your hand if you thought the Cubs were going win yesterday after the top of the 8th inning? .........Put your hand down Jeff Gray. I was riding home yesterday with the XM radio and turned the game off because I was sure the Cubs were falling to 3-5 on the season. I got home, talked to my wife and then finished grouting the downstairs bathroom. I heard my phone ring and then I get a text. Little did I know, LaTroy Hawkins was paying us back from all those blown saves. I was upset that I missed the game, but happy to be back at .500.
That brings us to the series finale. The Cubs are back in action today with a chance to move over .500 on the season. I never thought it possible before yesterday's comeback, but thigns are looking up.
Carlos Zambrano will once again throw on his 5th day, which is fine by me with the Brewers in town. I'm glad we're saving Silva and company for the winless Astros this weekend. Big Z was better his last tme out and hopefully will improve as the season goes on.
Carlos Marmol - It's not alwasy pretty, but Marmol is 3-for-3 in save chances so far.
Kosuke Fukudome - He still only has one walk, but is hitting .417 so far with 5 RBI. Whatever you're doing, keep it up.
Milwaukee Bullpen - First Trevor Hoffman blows two saves and now LaTroy Hawkins joins in on the fun. Who will be the hero today?
Aramis Ramirez - He's only 4-for-31 so far this season. If I know anything about anything, it's that the Cubs can't afford to have Aramis in prolonged slump.
I thought taking 2 of 3 would be the best the Cubs could do in this series, but they have a chance to sweep today. The Brewers have lost 8 of 11 in Chicago, so lets make it 9 of 12 today and get ready for Houston.
The Cubs are trying to claw their way back to .500 today against the Milwaukee Brewers today. It would be the first time all season the Cubs have made it back to .500 all season after the opending day loss to the Atlanta Braves.
More importantly, it marks Randy Wells' second start on his way to a Cy Young this season. Oh, I can dream since I just spent $11 on Wells in a deep NL-Only auction on Saturday (In my defense, I did have a ton of money to spend and it was after I picked up Ryan Bruan and Adrian Gonzalez). So, I really need Wells to pitch well to justify the dollar amount.
Well, back on topic now. The Cubs offense finally broke out on Monday to the tune of nine runs, which was fueled by home runs by Jeff Baker, Xavier Nady and Aramis Ramirez. It was good to see some of the other guys get going as well. It will interesting to see how they continue to hit this week.
In other news, it looks like Derrek Lee is day-to-day with a thumb injury. Apparently he injured it back in Atlanta and it was bad enough for him to come out of the game yesterday. At the time it looked as if the Cubs would cruise to a win, but the pitching staff had to make things interesting.
The Cubs called up right-handed pitcher Jeff Gray from Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday and placed right-handed reliever Esmailan Caridad on the 15-day disabled list because of a right-forearm strain.
The injury to Caridad, who has struggled in the setup role during the season's first week, is not considered serious.
Meanwhile, Xavier Nady is replacing first baseman Derrek Lee in the lineup for the Cubs (3-4), who will host the Milwaukee Brewers (3-4) at 1:20 p.m. Lee injured his right thumb Monday in the Cubs' 9-5 victory, which was sparked by Nady's three-run homer. Aramis Ramirez will bat third in the order.
Xavier Nady - With Lee on the mend with a thumb, Nady becomes very important. He's 3 for 7 so far with a HR and four RBI.
Kosuke Fukudome - Hitting .400...check....OPS over 1.000...check...HR...check...bunch of walks....wait..One walk? We'll see if it continues.
Tyler Colvin - He's got one hit so far and really needs some at bats in AAA to continue his development.
I don't know about you, but I could use a win today. With the Astros coming into town this weekend, it's time to run up a winning streak.
The Cubs try to right the ship after a fairly disastrous 2-4 stretch to open the season. Quite honestly, with as much that has gone wrong in the first 6 games, they should be happy with that 2-4 mark. The bullpen has more or less been a trainwreck, the hitting (and moreso clutch hitting - depending on whether you believe such a thing exists) has been putrid, and even the defense has been shaky.
Ryan Dempster was one of the bright spots of the road trip, going 6 strong innings last time out, in a game where the team desperately needed that kind of outing following Zambrano's season-opening debacle. Demp struck out 9 last Wednesday, but we know how that one ended, courtesy a John Grabow meatball to Chipper Jones.
The Brewers come into Chicago with a 3-3 mark, having split their first 6 games, all at home. The last of those games was an 8-7 win over the Redbirds last night in a game that went well past 10:00PM local time. Obviously, it's not a long trip from Milwaukee to Chicago, but with only 14 hours between games, and a commute sandwiched in there..perhaps they'll be sluggish today.
Doug Davis is one of those pitchers that always seems to give the Cubs fits. He works at a Trachselian pace, and those patient (ahem) Cubs hitters don't do well with slow pitchers. Plus, he's a junk-balling lefty...add it up and you have a recipe for success against the Cubs offense of late. Davis has a career 9-6 mark with a 3.20 ERA against the Northsiders, including 2 gems last year.
The Cubs starting pitching - 5 nice starts in a row, stretching back to Dempster's start last Wednesday. The Cubs could really use that mark to head to 6 after this afternoon.
Good God, take your pick. Soriano can't catch or hit. It can't be this bad permanently, right? Grabow continues to show that he can't be trusted in high leverage situations. Problem is, who outside of Marmol and Marshall (and he might be needed in long relief) can be? The 4-5-6 section of the lineup had a TERRIBLE series in Cincy. They need to wake up, stat.
Not sure why, but I feel good about this one. I think the bats wake up, and we see a lot of runs scored on both sides today, with the Cubs getting a much needed win.
Keep the faith.
Tom Gorzelanny (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Mike Leake (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
The Cubs will go for their first series victory today against the Reds and phenom Mike Leake. Why phenom? Well, Leake will make his professional debut in the majors. Leake becomes only the 22nd player in MLB history to skip the minors. The last player? Current Cub Xavier Nady.
The Cubs have not fared well against young pitchers in the past. That is probably because the Cubs are not full patient hitters, which leads to a quick innings and strikeouts.
The other trend early on the season are the homeruns for the Cubs. The Cubs scored all their runs off the long ball on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. So, the Cubs are hitting the long ball, but they are still only 2-3.
Gorzelanny will make his season debut and will have a tough time matching "The Great" Carlos Silva. It looks like Silva and Gorzelanny will both pitch or a coupe more weeks since Ted Lilly was pushed back again.
Kosuke Fukudome - I know it's early, but I like what I see so far. The Dome is hitting .313 with a .915 OPS. We need more of this to help the Cubs.
Take your pick - Tyler Colvin, Ryan Theriot, Alfonso Soriano, Geovanny Soto and Marlon Byrd are all hitting below .200. It's early, but it wouldn't hurt to see some hits form these guys.
The Cubs need some good things to happen heading into the home opener. It would be nice to be .500 on the road trip to start the season .
Carlos Zambrano (0-1, 54.00 ERA) Vs. Aaron Harang (0-1, 5.40 ERA)
So here we are once again. One of the beautiful things about baseball is that no matter what happens the day before, the next day gives an opportunity to forget all that nasty "Bullpen fail" that came before. After yesterday's 5-4 suckfest, I'm sure we all will be looking for a better taste in our mouths' today.
Carlos Zambrano gets the start for the Cubs, and after a disastrous 1st start I'm predicting he will bounce back in a big, big way today. Look for him to keep his walks lower, and go about 6 to 7 innings today.
Cubs Starting Pitchers - Since Zambrano's opening day shenanigans, Cubs' starters have given up 2 runs in three games. Unfortunately they only got 1 win out of those games, but hey, it's early, right?
Cub's Bullpen - See the game recap for proof. Someone not named "Sean Marshall" needs to step up soon.
The Cubs need to start putting up more insurance runs, and the 8th inning bullpen awfulness needs to end. I predict a solid bounce back effort, and free chocolates for all.
Carlos Silva (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Homer Bailey (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
The Cubs finally got the monkey off their back, but they didn't really actually break the slump at the plate. Granted, the season is still very young, but watching in person the last three games gave me a little glimpse into the season.
- Derrek Lee's bat looks slow. I know he's a slow starter, but he didn't look good once at the plate. Everything he hit was to right and only warning track power. He's 34 and this could get ugly.
- Ryan Theriot needs a hit. He really didn't do much in the series with the glove or bat. His SF was was barely a SF only because Nate McClouth can't throw.
- John Grabow....eh...its been covered already.
The Cubs traveled north last night and will play three with the Reds before heading home for the opener on Monday. The Cubs really could use a couple days in the Great American Home Run Park. It could do the offense good.
On the mound, the Cubs will send Carlos Silva, which is most likely an audition for the No. 5 starter role for when Ted Lilly returns. We will see if the "The Hut" can make us forget Milton Bradley.
Cubs Starters - Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells threw really well the last two nights and saved the bullpen a little after the Monday opener.
Sean Marshall - He's looked great, but lets hope Lou doesn't run him out there too much that it leads to an injury.
Soto, Lee, Theriot, Soriano, Hill, Baker......I could keep going, but you get the picture.
The Cubs should win this series, but it starts with game one. Hopefully, the bats wake up and the pitching keeps it going, well everybody except John Grabow.
I have always wanted to attend opening day, and I finally got my wish my Monday. Well, I wish I would have gone to the beach for Spring Break instead. The Cubs got off to a great start, but it was quickly ended when the Braves blooped and then bombed their way to a 16-5 win.
The Cubs will try and turn things around today as they face one of the better young right-handers in the game. For the Cubs, Dempster takes the mound as he tries to get the Cubs back on track in the 2010 season. Of course it won't matter if the Cubs walk eight guys again.
Carlos Zambrano didn't do the Cubs any favors, but the game really wasn't over until Jeff Samardijza was introduced. I really had a guy tell me he likes to see him, because he was one of the greatest wide receivers in Notre Dame history. Well, that might be, but I hate Notre Dame, and I sure don't like people who can't pitch on the major league level.
Jason Hayward - I saved my ticket on Monday to one day show my children. I figure he's going to be in the Hall of Fame someday, so it's worth a shot.
Honesty - Yes, I'm looking at you Nate.
I will once again make the trek to the game tonight, so hopefully the game will be more entertaining. The gamecasts will get a little big more in depth after we have some more trends.
The Chicago Cubs look to inflame the hope of fans everywhere and to extinguish our fears of an 0-14 start in one sweeping gesture. They do this by sending out veteran 20-something ace Carlos Zambrano, he of the epic contract, the infantile behavior, and the gargantuan heart.
It will be the first time that Alfonso Soriano will open his season for the Cubs in a place other than leadoff. Chicago's lineup of choice is Theriot, Fukudome, Lee, Ramirez, Byrd, Soriano, Fontenot, Soto, and Zambrano. Sounds like a reasonable lineup to me.
Cub fans will be anxious to see some Big Picture questions get answered -- but, I caution again, we will have to wait a while. One series -- or even three or four -- will not tell us outcomes. We won't know by May if Soriano will have a good year, whether he starts out hot or cold. We won't know by May if the bullpen is as horrible as it appears, whether they dominate or not. We'll just have a few trends, some of which will be more concerning than others.
Still, if Dusty Baker taught us anything, it's that a baseball season is far less stressful when the team starts out with motivation and momentum. Therefore, I hope -- as you surely hope -- that the Chicago Cubs will kick the holy hell out of the Atlanta Braves today. I hope that they win 20 to 0. I hope that Carlos strikes out 18, that Soriano slugs 3 dingers, that Soto goes 5 for 5. I hope the bullpen comes in, pitches the 8th and 9th only, and strikes out every single batter they face. I hope that Carlos Marmol throws 9 pitches, all strikes, with no appearance of lacking control.
Today, we hope. The dread comes later.
Daniel Cabrera (0-5, 6.07 ERA) vs. Randy Wells (11-10, 3.18 ERA)
Randy Wells' rotation spot for next season is pretty secure, I would guess, but I'm sure he would like to end the year with a better than .500 record.
The Cubs, by the looks of it, looked terrible yesterday. Thank goodness, I didn't see anything.
The Twins - Don't look now, but they are just 1 game back of the Tigers.
GMs - The Blue Jays and the Padres both made changes. Maybe the Cubs can get Doc H from the Jays?
Just two games left.