Monday, September 7, 2009

Cubs-Pirates Series Preview

Starting this morning the Cubs have their most winnable road series of the season. They invade PNC Park to play the last place Pirates, the one team the Cubs have actually looked dominant against. As usual things look good pitching-wise for the Cubs, but we know that isn't the problem.

Monday- Ted Lilly (10-8 3.17) vs. Mike McCutchen (0-0 4.50)
We know what Ted is. Ted is awesome, and really good at pitching. He isn't as good on the road as he is at home, but he is still Ted. You know that you will always get a solid effort. Ted will be looking to get his team leading 11th win, having already secured his seventh straight 10 or more win season.
McCutchen is the typical Cubs killing never seen before player that will throw a shutout. He is expected to be in the Pirates rotation the rest of the season, and is coming off a six inning three run effort against the Reds. MLB says that McCutchen has a low 90s fastball with above-average command. All I can say about that is we are screwed.

Tuesday- Ryan Dempster (8-8 3.97) vs. Zach Duke (10-13 3.71)
Ryan Dempster why do you insist on driving me nuts every start? Honestly Dempster is going to have a solid season overall, but I don't really know how. The 3-2 counts on every batter and four earned runs every start drive me nuts, but he eats up innings and has just enough errors from his teammates to keep the ERA down. I suppose we could do worse than Dempster.
Duke is a known quantity, which is rare for a Pirates starter in September. Duke usually beats the Cubs pretty good, but the Cubs have gotten him a few times. Duke has lost three of his last four starts, hopefully the Cubs can continue that trend.

Wednesday- Carlos Zambrano (7-6 3.80) vs. Kevin Hart (4-5 4.67)
Big Z looks to build on his awesome effort last time out against a Pirates lineup he should be able to handle. Z was getting lots of ground ball outs and lots of strikeouts. Z hasn't gotten a win since July 22, but that really isn't his fault. The Cubs offense has gotten him a few times too.
Hart was pitching for the Cubs earlier this season, and actually did his job pretty well before being sent to the Pirates in the John Grabow trade. Hart has struggled since going to the Pirates, it seems like all those runners he left on base in Chicago score now that he's in Pittsburgh.

Hitters to watch
Andrew McCutchen .282/.358/.479/.837 11 HR 45 RBI 16 SB
McCutchen has the chance to be a star in the league for many, many years. With more games played he would probably be the heavy favorite for the rookie of the year. Still a slip up from JA Happ and Randy Wells might give McCutchen a few votes. He is a power and base stealing threat, and will probably do some major damage against the Cubs.

Garrett Jones .308/.377/.617/.994 18 HR 36 RBI 9 SB
Jones has become a legit power threat and another future fixture in the Pirates lineup. That or he will be traded to the Cubs in two seasons. Jones struggles in the minors were mostly with his batting average and walks, he has obviously fixed that so far. He can play right field and first base meaning his bat will remain in the lineup even if he isn't the best defender.

The Cubs should win two of three in this series. I see no reason they can't continue to beat up the Pirates. I say all of that knowing this will be another series loss, most likely needing Z to bail us out to avoid a sweep. Just the sad state of the Cubs right now.

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