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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  • Some perspective (mostly for my own benefit): Dan Straily beat MadBum 2-1 today as the Reds took 2 of 3 in SF. Giants are 2-9 since the break and their lead over LA is down to 2.5 games. So, yeah...baseball. It'll drive ya nuts.

    billybucks 53 min 22 sec ago view
  • McNutt / Archer didn't work out well for us.

    QuietMan 1 hour 9 min ago view
  • The floor is more valuable than the ceiling. It's the same reason we drafted Kris Bryant instead of Jon Gray.

    John Beasley 1 hour 54 min ago view
  • Apparently the Yankees had the choice of either Gleyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez in the Chapman deal, and they chose Torres. 

    link 

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 48 min ago view
  • Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.

    chitownmvp01 6 hours 39 min ago view
  • Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.

    He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.

    chitownmvp01 6 hours 47 min ago view
  • When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.

    I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.

    VirginiaPhil 10 hours 20 min ago view
  • Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.

    The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.

    Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.

    Old and Blue 12 hours 23 min ago view
  • If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.

    billybucks 21 hours 26 min ago view
  • Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."

    billybucks 22 hours 9 min ago view
  • This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.

    Charlie 22 hours 20 min ago view
  • I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.

    They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.

    However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.

    The E-Man 22 hours 26 min ago view
  • I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
    - They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
    - Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.

    billybucks 22 hours 30 min ago view
  • new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup

    crunch 22 hours 41 min ago view
  • Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.

    .500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.

    blockhead25 22 hours 47 min ago view
  • ...i hate espn.

    nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.

    oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.

    crunch 23 hours 2 min ago view