The Return of Z: Cubs (24-29) @ Pirates (22-31)
UPDATE: Wednesday night's game was rained out and will be made up this coming Monday at 11:35am, Chicago time. According to the Tribune's Paul Sullivan, Lou Piniella has yet to determine if Carlos Zambrano will start on Friday, when the Cubs open a three-game series in Houston.
From starter to set-up guy to long relief man to who-knows-what and finally, back to starter, Carlos Zambrano's strange season takes its next turn tonight at PNC Park. Zambrano will be making his first start since April 20th, when he threw 119 pitches and gave up two runs over six innings in a 4-0 loss to the Mets. Lou Piniella said he will limit Zambrano's workload tonight to 70 pitches or so. Can't help but wonder if that will get us through the second or third inning...
Do 24-29 teams get to play "must games"? I don't think so, but given how dismal the first 53 games have been, this would seem to be a great opportunity for a watershed moment.
Lots of familiar names back in the Cub lineup. Curiously Lou Piniella has one of our most potent hitters batting ninth.
Cubs vs. Zach Duke (3-5, 5.09; all-time vs. Cubs, 4-8, 3.67)
Theriot 4, Byrd 8, Lee 3, Nady 9, Ramirez 5, Soriano 7, Soto 2, Castro 6, Zambrano 1
Pirates vs. Carlos Zambrano (1-3, 6.12; all-time vs. Pirates, 11-8, 4.16)
McCutchen 8, Walker 4, Milledge 7, Jones 3, Church 9, Doumit 2, LaRoche 5, Cedeno 6, Duke 1
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.