As crappy as the team has played, it's good to remember that the Cubs are 10-10, and not, say 5-15 like the Washington Natinals. Speaking of the Natinals, the Marlins are certainly going to miss playing them.
|Opponent||Record||Runs Scored||Runs Allowed||Runs Scored/Game||Runs Allowed/Game|
|vs WAS||6-0||45||25||7.5||4.1||vs everyone else||7-8||49||75||3.3||5|
Just about any team will feast on the (lack of) pitching that the Nationals have, and the Marlins are no exception. Their best player, Hanley Ramirez, is also a little banged up after being hit on the wrist by a pitch earlier this week.
The Cubs, on the other hand, are coming off a stretch three straight series losses and a clownboatload of injuries. There were signs of life in the offense in Tuesday's game, and Milton Bradley seems to be seeing the ball a bit better. However, they stunk up the joint on Monday and Wednesday, and it looks like the team's second best hitter, Aramis Ramirez, might be headed to the DL. This can only mean more Aaron Miles, which is not a recipe for good. Furthermore, Soto and Lee have looked quite terrible at the plate. Maybe Florida's pitching can wake some of these guys up? Maybe they'll have to take a trip to KFC instead.
Note: I'm going to add each pitcher's current and roughly projected FIP to these
Thursday: Volstad (4.64, 4.4) v Marshall(3.77, 4.6) (7:05 pm)
Volstad's a decent pitcher. He put up a great ERA last year in his rookie season and his peripherals backed it up, to some extent. He's struggled with his control in his last few starts but has been able to limit the damage. Marshall has been spectacularly mediocre, doing just what you expect from your 5th starter (lasting 5-6 innings, giving up 3 runs or so). I'm still not the biggest Marshall supporter, as you may have surmised, though I think he is our fifth best starting pitcher and is certainly better than Jason Marquis. I still haven't gotten over his scouting report from 2006 that said he's the type of guy that will be hit hard after his second or third time through the lineup (and second or third time around the league). He's shown some promise since then, but he needs to prove me wrong to make a believer out of me. He certainly did have a wicked curveball working in his last start, which I love to see.
Friday: Taylor(7.82, 5.43) v Harden(4.52, 3.1) (1:20 pm)
I don't know if we'll see a bigger pitching mismatch the entire season. Taylor just made the jump from AA into the Marlins rotation, and was hit hard by the Phillies in his only start. His minor league numbers show him to be a command guy, with K/9 hovering in the ~6 range but with very few walks. That kind of stuff typically doesn't translate into the majors unless you have truly special stuff, and it does not look like Taylor has it. Not much I can say about Harden here. He is good at throwing baseballs.
Saturday: Anibal Sanchez(4.1, 4.35) v Ted Lilly(5.34, 4.3) (1:20 pm)
Sanchez was hit pretty hard in his last start vs. the Mets. He definitely has problems with the base on balls, so I hope the Cubs can capitalize. As far as Lilly goes, we'll see which Ted shows up. It shouldn't be too warm at Wrigley on Saturday, so that will help him out some. He certainly has to show more command than he did in his last start. This one feels like a tossup to me.
Sunday: Ricky Nolasco(3.65,4.05) v Carlos Zambrano(4.13, 4.15) (1:20pm)
Nolasco has a terrible ERA thus far, but I was surprised to see that his peripherals look good. The Cubs hit lefthanders very well last year (despite Doug freaking Davis and Wandy freaking Rodriguez having their number), so it will be interesting to see how things go vs. Nolasco. Z had a great outing in his last start, though wierdly enough he only notched 3 strikeouts against the hack-tastic Diamondbacks. I saw him pitch in person and I can see why people have been cringing at his mechanics for quite some time. It seems to be working though (albeit not as well as he pitched pre 2007), and Z is still Z. You gotta love having that bat in the lineup too. That HR he hit was absolutely crushed. Seeing the replays still floors me, it didn't look like he even got a good swing on it. Zambrano is crazy strong.
Series is split, though I do think the Cubs have a slight advantage. The first two games are fairly easy picks, but I would not be surprised to see the Cubs win both weekend games and finally build some momentum.