Cubs Preview

The Cubs have won 8 of 10, and 7 of their last 8 to get within 5.5 of the wild card and 8 of the Cardinals. At the very least, it makes the games bearable to watch for the time being. The Cubs have 19 games left and play a few more games than their current competitors, so they're actually just 4 back in the loss column to the Rockies and tied with the Marlins and Braves in that category. They trail the Giants by 2 in the loss column but play them next week. So they'll need some help from teams to beat the Rockies, but in a round-about way, they still control most of their own destiny for the rest of the season.

As for the sort-of-big weekend series versus the Cardinals, it's already guaranteed that the Cardinals won't be able to clinch anything this weekend. That's not going to stop them from trying to bury the Cubs though. They'll send out John Smoltz, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright for the series against Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano. 

Lineups for tonight:

Lopez 2b Theriot SS
Hart RF Fukudome CF
Braun LF Lee 1B
Fielder 1B Ramirez 3B
McGehee 3B Soto C
Cameron CF Bradley RF
Kendall C Fontenot 2B
Escobar SS Scales LF
Looper P Harden P

I wouldn't be suprised if things get a little chippy tonight. The teams have become almost as intense rivals as the Cubs and Cardinals and there were 3 HBP's last night and a few almost HBP's, following Braun getting hit by Dempster the night before.

In the hot 'n cold department, Soto's found his groove with a 1.252 OPS in September and 7 XBH's in 7 games played. Derrek Lee has a 1.333 OPS since August 25th with 9 HR's in 19 games. Then there's Milton Bradley, who hasn't walked since August 30th and has a .447 OPS in that time. Bobby Scales keeps getting playing time in LF despite a .617 OPS in September and some boneheaded defense and baserunning, while Micah Hoffpauir has a 1.122 OPS since being recalled. Godenot has returned as well for the final month with a 1.071 OPS in 8 games (6/14 at the plate).

Parachat actually had a small crowd last night, so stop on by.

The White Sox arrive today to finish off the Cubs 10-game homestand. A win for the Cubs would mean a winning homestand at 6-4 and keep the Cubs perfect September in tact. More importantly possibly - he says facetiously -  is a win for the Cubs would tie up the season series, which in turn would tie up the decade series record, which in turn would tie up the the all-time interleague record between the two clubs. See the Cubs and White Sox have been staging their own little Spy vs. Spy since interleague play started back in 1997. Each team taking turns knocking the other out, but ultimately ending up in the same place that they started.

The Cubs throw Ryan Dempster today, the White Sox do not counter with Jake Peavy. Instead it will be rookie Carlos Torres and a 6.75 ERA in two starts. 

The minor league playoff chase has soured for the Iowa Cubs. They've dropped three in a row after winning five straight and find themselves 2.5 back and in third place with just five games left to play. Double A Tennessee has a one-game lead heading into their 5-game set versus West Tennessee(Mariners). To complicate matters, Chattanooga (Dodgers) has also moved within a game, so there will be a little scoreboard watching to go along with the dueling Tennessee's.

I'm back to being connected to the Internet world, I'm not sure if that's good or bad. While I certainly do miss whatever brilliant, well-crafted snark is coming from the comments, it was kind of nice to be untethered from the digital world. 

As for the weekend, the Cubs pulled out 2 of 3 wins from the New York Mets - and with the Rockies getting swept  - sneak to 5.5 back in the Wild Card. Important thing to remember here is they managed to score one run versus Nelson Figueroa and couldn't sweep a team missing David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Johan Santana, Oliver Perez, John Maine, or J.J Putz. Zambrano, who seems to be getting advice from Alfonso Soriano on how to play with injuries and hurt your team, got lit up for 11 hits and 3 earned runs and couldn't make it out of the 4th against the Buffalo Bisons lineup. Color me unimpressed...

The Astros show up tonight and Michael Barrett's favorite ace takes the mound - Roy Oswalt. The Cubs counter with Rich Harden, who along with Aaron Heilman, did not get traded by today's deadline. I didn't really think the Twins would give up anything to grab Harden, they're just not a team to cough up prospects, but why Aaron Heilman is still wasting space is unfathomable.

Theriot, Bradley, Lee, Ramirez, Fukudome, Fox, Baker, Hill go tonight.

Some minor league and roster move info after the jump...

GAME 51 PREVIEW CHICAGO CUBS (26-24) at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (26-25) Dodger Stadium, 9.10pm CT, TV: ESPN2, FSN2
SP Derrek Lowe SP *John Koronka
SS #Neifi Perez SS #Cesar Izturis
3B #Enrique Wilson 3B Antonio Perez
1B Derrek Lee CF *JD Drew
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 2B Jeff Kent
2B *Todd Walker 1B Olmedo Saenz
CF *Corey Patterson RF Jayson Werth
LF Todd Hollandsworth C Jason Phillips
C Michael Barrett LF Mike Edwards
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
The Cubs' system is chock-a-block with pitching. Yet filling in today for the Mark Prior as the Cubs try to run the streak to a season-high six with a first sweep of the Dodgers in LA for a decade will be a real non-prospect making his major league debut. Koronka's not yet 25, but he's already into the eighth season of a minor league career over which he has a 4.41 ERA. If that doesn't say it all for his talent, his fastball doesn't reach the nineties, and his only quality off-speed offering is his changeup. The Cubs' decision to add him to the 40-man roster last November was then at best rather bizarre. Their decision to actually use him in a major-league game today probably borders on capitulation (of course, now that I've forecast him getting tatooed left, right and centre, watch for him throwing shutout ball). Strangely the decision makes some sense though. Besides Sergio Mitre, of all our prospects only Angel Guzman and Jerome Williams are refined enough to comfortably handle the jump to the majors. The diagnosis on Guzman though is a strained right forearm, and at best he'll only throw his first pitches since the spring in a few days' time. Jerome Williams meanwhile has struggled terribly of late, and the decision to place him for a while at Iowa, where he last night threw six solid innings (2 runs on 8 hits, 1 crushed home run that was only just fair, no walks and 4 strikeouts), is entirely the correct one in my view - he needs some confidence running through his veins again. Behind Guzman and Williams lies a whole host of talent, led by Renyel Pinto, Ricky Nolasco and Rich Hill from West Tennessee. Calling them up would though represent really throwing them in at the deep end, sink or swim, since not one of the three has a successful inning at Triple-A under their belt. Is that the wisest way to treat prospects? It's debatable. Of the more experienced options, the Cubs' decision to leave Todd Wellemeyer and Ryan Dempster, who've both started games this year, in the bullpen where they seem to have found a groove is probably wise. Though he only throws in the mid-eighties, Raul Valdez, signed out of the Dominican Republic last year, throws a wide variety of pitches at a wide variety of speeds from the left side, but he would be going on short rest today and he'd require someone being kicked off the forty. Jon Leicester meanwhile started a previous emergency start, but he was roughed up a bit by the Mets in that game and he's lost Dusty's faith. And that really leaves just Koronk-urgh. It's not ideal, but for today, it'll have to do. Hopefully the offence shows up, hopefully Valdez or Leicester can start next time around, and hopefully Mark Prior gets well soon. Roll on, Cubbies, roll on. [UPDATE Rob G.] I'm going to try and do a running diary of the game (twins permitting), updating every half inning or so.
X
  • Sign in with Twitter