Playing the Field

Well there isn't much to do this week but speculate, so let's take a look at the potential Cubs first round playoff opponent. There's a poll at the end of the post.

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New York Mets - 65% odds to make the playoffs

Scenario: If Mets win the Wild Card, they'll be the Cubs first round opponent. 

Category
#
NL Rank
RS 775 2nd
RA 688 6th
BA .267 4th
OBP .341 4th
SLG .424 6th
HR 170 6th
Starters' ERA 3.98 5th
Relievers' ERA 4.21 10th
K/9 Rate 7.20 6th
Team Defensive Efficiency .704 3rd

 

What They're Good At: Throwing Johan Santana, scoring runs and making plays in the field.

What They're Bad At: Relieving. 

Why The Cubs Don't Want to Play Them: If the Mets clinch before Sunday, that means Johan Santana in Game 1 and he's been aces since the break (2.34 ERA). While certainly below the level of the Cubs starting pitchers, Oliver Perez, Pedro Martinez, Mike Pelfrey and possibly John Maine all have the potential to scrounge up an excellent outing. Although they've performed as a unit better against lefties than righties, they do load up on lefties against the Cubs mostly righty staff and the quartet of Reyes, Wright, Beltran and Delgado is quite formidable.

Los Angeles Dodgers - 91.51% odds to make the playoffs

Scenario: If Brewers win the Wild Card, Cubs will play the division winner with the worst record.

Category
#
NL Rank
RS 665 13th
RA 626 1st
BA .262 6th
OBP .330 7th
SLG .394 13th
HR 128 13th
Starters' ERA 3.93 3rd
Relievers' ERA 3.25 1st
K/9 Rate 7.50 5th
Team Defensive Efficiency .699 8th

 

What They're Good At: Pitching, getting injured and penciling in Manny Ramirez

What They're Bad At: hitting, especially with any power

Why The Cubs Don't Want to Play Them: They say pitching wins in the playoffs and that is about the only thing the Dodgers do well, other than praying that Manny Ramirez will score some runs for them. But their hot streak came mostly against the likes of San Diego, Pittsburgh, Colorado and sweeping Arizona. A matter of fact, they just loss two of three at home to the Giants and feature a middle infield of Angel Berroa and Blake DeWitt. They're starters of Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and either Greg Maddux or Clayton Kershaw have been quite good, but they're going to have to be great.


I guess that was more of a why the Cubs Do Want to Play Them. 

Philadelphia Phillies - 99.63% odds to make the playoffs

Scenario: If Phillies blow the division but hold on to the Wild Card.

Category
#
NL Rank
RS 773 3rd
RA 657 3rd
BA .255 10th
OBP .332 6th
SLG .436 2nd
HR 208 1st
Starters' ERA 4.24 7th
Relievers' ERA 3.25 2nd
K/9 Rate 6.71 12th
Team Defensive Efficiency .704 4rd

 

What They're Good At: Hitting home runs, relieving, making plays in the field.

What They're Bad At: Striking out hitters, middle of order is very strikeout prone

Why The Cubs Don't Want to Play Them: Cole Hamels has owned the Cubs twice this year and Brett Myers has a 2.62 ERA since coming back from his demotion and Jamie Moyer continues to defy the laws of science and aging. Nearly as good a 1-8 as the Cubs and a formidable quartet of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Pat Burrell. The bullpen has been lights out for most of the season despite a small misstep the last time they faced the Cubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks - 8.48% odds to make the playoffs

Scenario: If Brewers win Wild Card and Diamondbacks overtake Dodgers for NL West crown.

Category
#
NL Rank
RS 697 10th
RA 674 5th
BA .251 13th
OBP .327 8th
SLG .415 8th
HR 152 10th
Starters' ERA 3.93 4th
Relievers' ERA 3.98 6th
K/9 Rate 7.69 3rd
Team Defensive Efficiency .696 12th

 

What They're Good At: Starting pitching, striking out hitters, having Cub-killer Adam Dunn in the lineup, beating us last year in the NLDS

What They're Bad At: Hitting, making plays in the field

Why The Cubs Don't Want to Play Them: The trio of Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Randy Johnson could be a bit intimidating and the bullpen is "good enough". Ted Lilly might throw a fastball to Chris Young as well.

And for comparision's sake, a look at the Cubs statistical dominance. It's a shame they just don't play these on paper.

Chicago Cubs

Category
#
NL Rank
RS 829 1st
RA 641 2nd
BA .278 1st
OBP .355 1st
SLG .444 1st
HR 177 5th
Starters' ERA 3.76 1st
Relievers' ERA 3.98 5th
K/9 Rate 7.82 1st
Team Defensive Efficiency .713 1st

 

What They're Good At: Just about everything.

What They're Bad At: the 7th inning

Why No One Wants to Play the Cubs: Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and even Ted Lilly can shut down any lineup. If you don't have a lead going into the 8th inning, you won't have one to end the game. If you are leading late in the game, there's a good chance the Cubs will be leading to the end the game. The entire lineup doesn't consist of one easy out...not even the pitcher in some cases.

I don't think it matters much who the Cubs end up playing at what point. I think the Phillies are probably the best team besides the Cubs right now and fully expect the Cubs to see them in the NLCS. If I had a choice, I'd take the Dodgers as the first round opponent, the chances of Furcal and/or Kent being ready seems pretty slim and the Cubs can just workaround Manny Ramirez. If the Brewers somehow right the ship this week and get Sheets and/or Yovani Gallardo available and healthy in the playoffs, they're about the only other team that could put a scare into the Cubs.

Comments

I'm still more scaredified of the Dodgers' pitching, than the Mets, personally.

sure, overall its better than the Mets and they got Saito back. But all you have to do is score 2 runs against them to win....

That's a lot, can we do it? Anyway, Manny has been hitting 9-run homeruns nightly, so it might take more. What about after Harden pitches his 5 innings and we have to run out Howry and Someninja, or whoever, for two innings? Plus, I'd really love to knock out the Mets in the first round.

if any team pitches to Manny with runners on, they're retarded, unless the bases are loaded of course and then I still might consider walking him.
 
Personally I think Lou is going to use Marmol for 2 innings a few times in the playoffs.

Yeah, ok. I just feel like arguing. I think either team would be ok.

also want to say I think the Dodgers pitchers numbers are a bit inflated. Besides getting to pitch at Dodger Stadium and Petco, the offenses in the NL West have been terrible. The Rockies were the best at 9th in the NL in runs scored.

Perhaps that's true, but they've also pitched well against the Cubs...in my don't-feel-like-looking-it-up-to-verify opinion.

more importantly, are you going to change your sig line next week?

Yup...

2007 TCR Keeper Champion
2008 Silver Medal Winner

we're giving out medals this year? who sprung for that? And what's the 4th place medal? Aluminum?

Ok, that was in the Olympic spirit. Yahoo gives virtual trophies on your fantasy sports page. I fully expect the silver one, but Agility has been gaining on me, so it might be bronze. You get a hardy handshake and a pat on the back.

Yesterday I would have said the Mets, but I switched to the Dodgers.
The prospect of facing Santana in game 1 of a short series makes me a bit sick to my stomach.

I think we tend to underestimate the importance of a dominant single starting pitcher in a first to 3 series. You lose to their ace, you need to win all 3 games against the rest of the staff.

If you don't have a lead going into the 8th inning, you won't have one to end the game.

When they're on, Marmol and Wood are a great closing combination. But so far this year, the Cubs have lost 15 games when their opponents didn't have a lead going into the eighth.

Recent comments

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  • E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.  

    Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as wel as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).  

    Arizona Phil 2 sec ago view
  • PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.

    The E-Man 42 min 3 sec ago view
  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 5 hours 27 min ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 5 hours 28 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 15 hours 9 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 18 hours 7 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 18 hours 19 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 18 hours 28 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 18 hours 34 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 18 hours 52 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 19 hours 28 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 19 hours 46 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 19 hours 47 min ago view
  • soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.

    he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.

    crunch 20 hours 5 min ago view
  • j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.

    crunch 20 hours 13 min ago view
  • so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.

    im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.

    crunch 21 hours 8 min ago view