Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cubs-Padres series preview

The Padres got off to a surprising 9-3 start, but then the smoke and mirrors abandoned them. San Diego is 4-16 since then, and they have not won a series since taking two of three from the Phillies April 17-19. They've also lost eight straight road games. None of the three starters who will pitch against the Cubs have won since April 16.

As expected, the Padres have struggled to score runs, entering this series 14th in the league. They're also in a slump even by their standards, having scored just 26 runs in their last 10 games. The only real threats in the lineup are CF Scott Hairston (.333, 4, 16) and 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.294, 11, 22).

Surprisingly, the Padres also clock in at 14th in pitching, just behind the Cubs. After losing Trevor Hoffman, their middle relief is a huge question mark (sound familiar?), and their 4.73 relief ERA tells you that if you can knock the starter out of the game, you've got a good chance of putting up some runs late.

Tuesday: Jake Peavy (2-4, 4.27) vs. Rich Harden (3-1, 4.83)

Why have I heard the name Jake Peavy before? Seems like he was in the news during the offseason for some reason ...

As evidenced by his middling ERA, Peavy is doing just okay thus far, and he has not won since April 16. However, he's pitched 15 innings in his last two starts while allowing just two runs and striking out 20. On May 14, 2008, Peavy lasted just four innings at Wrigley Field in an 8-5 Cubs victory. Soriano is 4-10 with two home runs against Peavy, and Fukudome is 2-2.

Rich Harden has put together four quality starts in six outings, though his other two starts were anything but quality. He's 3-0 in his last four starts, and while he's never faced the Padres, he has faced five Padres batters including Adrian Gonzalez, who is 2-2 against him.

Wednesday: Chris Young (2-1, 4.76) vs. Ted Lilly (4-2, 3.11)

Chris Young's winless streak is even longer than Peavy's--he hasn't recorded a "W" since April 12. He has, however, received no decisions in 1-0 and 2-1 losses since then. Young did not face the Cubs last year, but started twice against them in '07. He gave up one run in seven innings on May 24, and got into a fight with Derrek Lee on June 16 in a game the Padres won 1-0 despite a complete game by Carlos Zambrano. The only Cub with a homer off Young is Soriano, and he is also the only Cub other than Aramis Ramirez with more than five at-bats against Young.

Ted Lilly has been the Cubs best starter to this point. He has allowed two runs or less in four of his six starts, and one of his two losses was a result of running into buzzsaw Johnny Cueto. Lilly was the winner of the 8-5 game pitched by Peavy last year, and he lost a tough 2-1 decision on June 4, giving up just two runs in 7.1 IP. Lilly has held lefty Adrian Gonzalez in check (1-9), but Scott Hairston is 4-11 with two home runs against him.

Thursday: Chad Gaudin (0-2, 4.08) vs. Randy Wells (0-0, 0.00)

In Thursday's matinee, the Cubs will see a familiar beard--I mean face. Chad Gaudin will no doubt be fired up to face the team that cut him this spring. After being picked up by the Padres, Gaudin has started three games: he shutout Colorado through five innings, got shelled by the Dodgers for six runs in 5.2 innings, and gave up just two runs in seven innings against Houston on Friday. Expect Aaron Miles--who is 3-5 against Gaudin--in the lineup Thursday.

Randy Wells made his first major league start Friday against the Brewers, and while he allowed seven baserunners in five innings (five hits, two walks), he kept waving his magic wand and finding ways to get out of trouble. Zambrano will be eligible to come off the DL by the time Wells's next scheduled start rolls around, so he'll no doubt empty the tank in what could be an audition for a spot in the Cubs beleaguered bullpen. Not one current Padre has ever faced Wells.

The next 12 games for the Cubs feature six with the Padres (how much do these new schedules suck? The Cubs play the Cardinals just three times after the All-Star break. The Red Sox and Rays don't play again until August. I could go on and on ...), three with the Astros and three with the Cardinals. These are the kind of games the Cubs need to win (nine against teams with losing records, three against the team leading the division) if they want to remain in the thick of it.

Cubs note
-I didn't even know this was a possibility.

Ryan Dempster has been moved up and will start Thursday. Wells will pitch Friday against Houston.

1 comment:

  1. I think the best thing Derek Lee can do for the Cubs is get into another fight with Chris Young (or Peavy) and get Hoffpauir some more starts.