Cubs vs. Brewers Series Preview
Cubs (2-1; 1st in NL Central) vs. Brewers (1-2; 4th in NL Central) at Miller Park
First meeting in 2009. Cubs won 9 of 16 games between the teams in 2008.
Rich Harden (0-0) vs. Braden Looper (0-0)
Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 1.50) vs. David Bush (0-0, 18.00)
Ryan Dempster (0-0, 3.00) vs. Jeff Suppan (0-1, 13.50)
Hard to say anyone is "hot" after just three games, but the big bats came out in Houston after a couple of lackluster games. Ryan Theriot (5/9, .556) and Aramis Ramirez (6/14, .429 with team-high 5 RBI) are off to good starts and hit safely in all three games in Houston. Kosuke Fukudome (4 hits Wednesday night), Mike Fontenot (5/13, .385), and Alfonso Soriano (5/15, .333, 2 HR) have also contributed. Zambrano had an outstanding, highly controlled start in the opener, yielding just one run in 6+ innings.
Milwaukee opened on the road in San Francisco, where Mike Cameron went 4-for-7 with 6 BB and a homer. Ryan Braun, 4-for-12 including a pair of doubles, was the only other Brewer regular who did much hitting. Yovanni Gallardo, not pitching in this series, homered against Randy Johnson on Wednesday, the first time Johnson has ever been touched for a home run by an opposing pitcher.
Not So Hot
Milton Bradley is hitless in 9 AB so far, though he has drawn a team-high 4 BB. Derrek Lee was 1-for-6 Wednesday night with 3 K's and is hitting just .154 (2-for-13).
Against the Giants, Weeks,Fielder, Hart, Hardy, and Kendall went a combined 7-for-57 with 17 K's.
Other notes: The series opener matches the sometimes brilliant and generally brittle Harden against the former Cardinal, Looper, whose Brewer Spring Training debut was delayed until late March by a muscle pull; when he pitched, he didn't pitch well...In case you forgot, the last time the teams met was on the final weekend of the '08 season, when the Brewers took two of three from the Cubs to clinch the NL Wild Card...This series will mark the first matchup between the two teams since former, WGN extra guy in the radio booth, Cory Provus, left 'GN to start calling Brewers games. I thought Provus did a nice job in Chicago, but since he bailed out on us, he is officially dead to me.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.
If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?
#Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.
Fun with FIP
- J. Hammel 3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
- J. Arrieta 2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
- J. Lester 2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
- K. Hendricks 2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
- J. Lackey 3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k
he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.
JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.
My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.
Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...
joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1
not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.
really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.
Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.