Wednesday, June 10, 2009
You can make a pretty strong argument that since coming to the Cubs in 2007, Ted Lilly has been the Cubs' proverbial "ace." While it doesn't really matter who the "ace" is (since other than Opening Day and the first game after the All-Star break your best pitcher is not necessarily going to be matched up against the other team's best pitcher, anyways), Zambrano is constantly referred to as the Cubs ace. And while his track record and contract certainly justify the label to an extent, take a look at this:
2007: 15-8, 3.83 ERA, 207 IP
2008: 17-9, 4.09 ERA, 204 IP
2009: 7-4, 3.00 ERA, 78 IP
Totals: 39-21, 3.80 ERA, 489 IP
2007: 18-13, 3.95 ERA, 216 IP
2008: 14-6, 3.91 ERA, 188 IP
2009: 4-2, 3.72 ERA, 55 IP
Totals: 36-21, 3.92 ERA, 459 IP
The numbers aren't that different, but Lilly has Zambrano beat in all three major categories: He's won more games, amassed a better ERA, and logged more innings than Zambrano since joining the Cubs. Jim Hendry deserves huge props for this signing, especially since he completed it from a hospital bed.
Lilly's only drawback? He apparently is not aware of the baseball phenomenon known as "the third base coach." Did you see him turn to look at the ball five times on his triple to right center last night? The Cubs are paying someone to help you with that, Ted!
After this series, the Cubs will have played the Astros 10 times in their first 57 games, yet another example of what a terrible schedule MLB is operating on this season. The Cubs are making their third trip to Minute Maid Park already, and if only they could face Brian Moehler every time there. In just the third game of the season, the Cubs knocked him out in the second inning of an 11-6 victory. Tuesday, Moehler improved upon that start by going three whole innings and allowing just five runs! His season ERA stands at 6.95.
A portion of last night's offense came from Mike Fontenot, which was great to see. Fontenot was 4-for-5 with his first home run since May 3. After batting just .216 in May, Fontenot appears to be getting his groove back: he's batting .385 in June.
Finally, Carrie Muskat reports that Jake Fox (who had a pinch-hit double last night and is now 5-for-6 as a pinch-hitter) will be sent back to Triple-A Iowa in order to activate Aaron Miles from the DL. All I have to say is that Miles better produce more than his current .204/.250/.265 line, because though Fox can't play much defense, he sure can rake. No doubt Fox will be back in the not-too-distant future.
-The Brewers and Cardinals both lost. Lou Piniella will probably be sending a "Thank You" card along to Denver, as the Rockies have now defeated the Cardinals and Brewers a combined five consecutive games. In Florida, Chris Carpenter couldn't hold a 3-0 lead, and a ninth-inning homer off Jason Motte sealed their fate. The Reds beat the Nationals 3-2, so there's a three-way tie for second place, with the Brewers leading the pack by 2.5 games. Technically, the Cubs' winning percentage is just slightly better than that of the Reds and Cardinals, so take that, suckers!
Jeff has made two starts since the last udpate, one good and one bad. One June 4, he allowed four runs on nine hits in five innings of work. He followed that up, though, with a strong performance on Tuesday--6 IP, 5 H, o ER, o BB, 3 K. His Triple-A ERA sits at 4.05, an he has walked just 13 batters in 46.2 IP.