May 14, 2010

Series Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates (14-20) at Chicago Cubs (15-20)

The Cubs were swept by the Pirates in their last meeting, and they're facing two of the same three pitchers from that series. The Pirates still aren't a good team.

Batters (wOBA, ZiPS RoS wOBA, UZR)

  1. C Ryan Doumit, BHB (.344, .345, -4.0)
  2. 1B Jeff Clement, LHB (.224, .339, 0.9)
  3. 2B Akinori Iwamura, LHB (.243, .324, -8.2)
  4. SS Ronny Cedeno, LOL (.283, .300, 4.7)
  5. 3B Andy Laroche, RHB (.337, .335, 0.6)
  6. LF Lastings Milledge, RHB (.279, .318, -3.8)
  7. CF Andrew McCutcheon, RHB (.380, .357, -1.0)

  8. RF Garrett Jones, LHB (.339, .360, 0.9)

Pitchers (FIP, xFIP, RoS FIP)
  1. Zach Duke, LHP (5.34, 4.74, 4.30)
  2. Paul Maholm, LHP (5.26, 5.05, 4.10)
  3. Charlie Morton, RHP (5.51, 4.00, 3.99)
  4. Ross Ohlendorf, RHP (5.98, 6.81, 4.67)
  5. Brian Burres, LHP (4.52, 5.73, 4.47)
  6. Octavio Dotel, RHP (5.11, 4.23, 4.11)
  7. Joel Hanrahan, RHP (3.98, 3.09, 3.54)
  8. Javier Lopez, LHP (4.55, 4.87, 4.63)

Not exactly world-beaters. At least the Cubs don't have to face Charlie Morton this time.

For what little it's worth, I was one of the last people to admit that Ronny Cedeno sucked at baseball, defending him for a long time after it was obvious that Theriot was a much better player than he was. I guess he's just another one of those guys whose minor league numbers never translated. I wonder if his forgettable 2006 season hurt his development.

Cedeno has a bruised wrist from a HBP on Monday, but should be okay. Ryan Church also has a bruised wrist and missed the last 5 games. Brendan Donnelly is helping the Pirates pen by not pitching, currently on the DL with an oblique strain. Chris Jakubasukas is still out following a scary liner to the back of his head off the bat of Lance Berkman. And former Cub trade pieces Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio are both recovering from torn labrum surgeries. For the Cubs, Theriot is day to day with right hamstring stiffness. Grabow had a cortisone shot in his knee and has been available for the past 3 games, but hasn't pitched.

Players to watch Gotta go with Ohlendorf and Burres. They're the two worst pitchers on the Pirates staff, so of course they'll pitch back-to-back one hitters. For the Cubs, Starlin Castro has this spot as long as he's in the bigs. He's pretty much my main reason to tune in these days.

Pitching matchups
Friday Brian Burres, LHP (4.52, 5.73, 4.47) vs Tom Gorzelanny, LHP (2.72, 3.34, 3.98), 1:20 PM CT
I was cautiously optimistic about Gorzelanny going into the season, expecting him to put up average-ish numbers. What I was not expecting was for him to strike out over a batter per inning. His K rate will drop as the season goes on, but I'm inclined to believe the improvment is for real. Gotta tip your cap to Larry Rothschild. Here's hoping the Cubs move him at the deadline for someone good. Burres blanked the Cubs for 7 innings in his last start, despite giving up a large number of fly balls (which never left the yard) and walking three batters. Hopefully the Cubs batted ball luck turns around in this start.

Saturday Paul Maholm, LHP (5.26, 5.05, 4.10) vs Ryan Dempster, RHP (3.83, 3.61, 3.69), 12:05 PM CT
Maholm also gave up a ton of contact in his last start vs the Cubs, though his luck manifested itself differently. He allowed a ton of baserunners (11 in 6 innings) without missing bats (only 1 strikeout) but only gave up 2 runs. 2010 Cubs baseball - feel the excitement! Demp had his 37th wasted quality start of the season in his game vs the Pirates, giving up 3 runs while striking out 7 in a wasted 7 innings of work.

Sunday Ross Ohlendorf, RHP (5.98, 6.81, 4.67) vs Ted Lilly, LHP (5.21, 4.38, 4.01), 1:20 PM CT
Ted hasn't looked quite the same since coming back, though this is still basically spring training for him. His fastball is only averaging around 85, and while it seems like he hasn't had great control with his pitches, I was surprised to see that he's only walked 4 batters this year. Still he's not fooling many batters (only 4.88 K/9) and they're making decent contact off of him. Maybe it's time for the Cubs to move Jay Jackson and Cashner into the rotation so they can further shore up the bullpen with Lilly and Dempster. Ohlendorf made his first start back from an injury last week in Cincy, and pitched an uninspiring 4 innings, walking 4 and striking out 3. He's a fly-ball pitcher who has not surprisingly been bit by the home run ball often in his career. If the wind's blowing out Sunday's game might be a long one.