April 27, 2009

Series Preview: Cubs (9-8) vs Arizona (7-11), 4/27-4/29

The Cubs bats finally woke up vs St. Louis yesterday, despite the fact that their two best remaining hitters (Lee and Soriano) both had injury scares yesterday. Lee left the game in the first with neck spasms and is day-to-day, while Soriano was hit in the head by a Wellemeyer pitch and remained in the game. Still, scary moments for a team with such a a short bench. Arizona is coming off a series loss to the Giants and has injury problems of its own. They just found out that Brandon Webb is going to miss at another 6 weeks or so with shoulder issues, which is a huge blow to their chances to contend in the west. Stephen Drew is also injured, and will miss this series. This is an interesting matchup for the Cubs, as the Diamondbacks have a rep for being a hack-tastic team, most notably Mark Reynolds and Chris Young. Justin Upton had a poor start to the season, but seems to be emerging from his slump (or at least KLaw certainly seems to think so). I hope so too, since I bought low on him in both of my fantasy leagues. The Cubs have a strikeout staff, so they should see an uptick in their numbers this series. It's too bad Harden isn't pitching against them, that would be fun to watch. Even without Webb, Arizona's strength is its starting pitching, and we're not seeing any slouches here in this series. Here are the matchups:

Probable Pitchers
Monday: Lilly v Haren (8:40 pm)

Haren would be the ace of pretty much any other team, and with Webb out he's the leader of this staff. He's one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball - he had a quietly huge season last year (3.01 FIP and 208 K's in 216 IP), and hasn't slowed down this season. Lilly's been his usual up-and-down self this season, pitching one dud start along with two sparkling outings. This should be another frustrating, low-scoring game with little offense from the Cubs like we've been seeing this week; I wouldn't be surprised to see another 7-1 type game where it's close until the 7th or 8th inning, where the Cubs bullpen gets lit up, and the offense looks clueless again. Dan Haren is not the prescription for a slumping team to break out, and these things happen when half your lineup is injured and the other half is slumping.

Tuesday: Zambrano v Petit (8:40 pm)

Z hasn't looked great in his last few starts, but at least he's managed to go relatively deep in them. He looked okay in his last start against the Reds (7 K's), but was left in one inning too long, not to mention the poor defense behind him in that game (he made one mistake himself). Petit is a decent guy to have around as a swingman. I remember him pitching pretty well against the Cubs in a spot start last year. He's pitched okay in his starts so far this year, despite a 6.00 ERA teams haven't really teed off on him and he hasn't been walking people willy-nilly. The Cubs should get through against him, I think.

Wednesday: Dempster v Davis (2:40 pm)

Just like my last preview of Demp, he just needs to avoid the One Big Inning problem I think this is a good matchup for him though. Davis has always pitched well against the Cubs, but also tends to walk a lot of guys (which the Cubs are good at). His control seems fine so far this season - he's only had one start where he's walked more than one batter. This one is probably a toss-up

Series Prediction
Both of these teams are slumping a little bit, but I think the Diamondbacks have a slight edge in this series, and win 2-1