Friday, September 18, 2009

Cubs-Cards Preview: Try and Not Get Swept

This morning's links post was the 500th post in TCB history. Kind of blew off that meaningless milestone, I'll have to invent something better for 1,000.

The Cubs move down I-55 to take on bitter rival St. Louis in a series that at one point was supposed to mean something but now is just an excuse for Cardinal fans to mock me. I would really prefer the Cubs not get swept, but with the way the Cardinals moved their rotation around for us it doesn't look good.

Friday- Ted Lilly (12-8 3.05) vs. John Smoltz (3-6 6.53)
This represents the Cubs best chance to win as noted badass and Cardinal beater Ted Lilly faces off against an old retread who has a bum shoulder. Ted is continuing his effort to lower his season ERA below 3, though he hasn't been quite as good on the road. Still Ted has been pretty good about shutting down the Cardinals lineup since coming to the Cubs. This also serves as an important game for St. Louis because Ted is a preview of the Cliff Lee-Cole Hamels monster looming in the playoffs.
Smoltz came to St. Louis and made two solid starts before struggling his last few outings and having shoulder issues. For some reason this game represents a lot for Cardinal fans and that pressure falls on Smoltz's shoulder. That bum shoulder. If his control isn't there the Cubs can go nuts, if it is we might have some issues.

Saturday- Ryan Dempster (10-8 3.84) vs. Chris Carpenter (16-4 2.45)
Dempster had his best outing of the season against the Brewers this week and led to me praising him. Hopefully he has just as good of stuff this time out against a lineup where he can be victimized with his bad control. He has started three times against the Cardinals this season and hasn't earned a win yet. Interesting stat the Cubs made up- Dempster and Smoltz are the only two pitchers to have 3 straight 20-save seasons followed by two 10 win starting seasons.
Chris Carpenter is still defying his arm issues and pitching this late into the season, though his arm did look tired when he got lit up last start. Rather than give him some extra rest with the division in hand, the Cards are calling on him to try and beat their rivals. Hopefully we can beat him up some more and see if he is really able to last until mid-October.

Sunday- Carlos Zambrano (8-6 3.94) vs. Adam Wainwright (18-8 2.59)
Big Z has had great success against the Cardinals before but the last few years the wheels have fallen off. He still gets lots of them out, and has been good against Pujols when not giving up homers to him. Big Z is really having a tough season with the media and his own head, I would recommend Andres Blanco starting at short this game to prevent Theriot from pissing off Z.
Adam Wainwright is a Cy Young possibility who is coming off a real tough loss. Wainwright is being given the start on the big stage, a stage he already dominated the Cubs on once this year. Really I see no way the Cubs win this game, but hopefully they can take a hit to his ERA. He won't win the Cy Young anyway while Tim Lincecum is still in the NL.

Hitters to watch
Albert Pujols- .333/.450/.689/1.139 47 HR 127 RBI 197 OPS+
There really isn't much to say about Pujols. He's a great hitter who is having his best season ever, however allow me instead to give some perspective. Last night we were thinking about how you would pitch to Albert in the playoffs and the point was made that he makes more outs than get does get on base. A very true point, but in a four year stretch from 2001 to 2004 Barry Bonds didn't do that, in fact 18 times in baseball history that hasn't happened. 18 times, wow.

Matt Holliday- .311/.389/.522/.910 23 HR 102 RBI 143 OPS+
Holliday is the piece that the Cardinal fans really wanted and he is producing. He has been hitting the crap out of the ball and protecting Pujols in the lineup. He is also a free agent after this season and will most likely be taking big money from the Red Sox or Yankees.

This series is going to be an ass kicking for the ages. The Cardinals are a better team than the Cubs and have their two best pitchers going. The Cubs will be lucky to win one game, and will likely get swept away. At least they can't clinch.

No comments:

Post a Comment