Saturday, August 8, 2009

Zambrano scratched, Cubs overmatched

Friday: Rockies 6, Cubs 2

It was a day of bad news for the Cubs.

First, the Cardinals came back to beat the Pirates 6-4.

Then, Carlos Zambrano was scratched from his start when his back stiffened up while playing long toss before the game. How he made it five days--including a bullpen session--without any trouble, only to be scratched minutes before his start is beyond me. We'll see if Zambrano will be placed on the DL for the second time this season. Because his last start was August 1, he would already be halfway done with his DL stint if they make it retroactive.

Sean Marshall stepped in on (very) short notice, but showed why his career ERA is 2 1/2 points higher as a starter than as a reliever. He needed over 60 pitches to get through two innings, allowing three runs in his short outing. The Cubs may need to make a roster move this weekend, as four relievers were forced to throw all eight innings in the first of four games at hitter friendly Coors Field.

Let's get to the lineup changes: though the Cubs only tallied two runs on Friday, I like Bradley batting second. When the Cubs signed him, they thought they were getting an on-base guy with some pop in his bat. But so far, he's only lived up to the first part of that reputation. Despite a .252 average, he's got a .394 OBP, better than that of Adrian Gonzalez, Raul Ibanez and Ryan Braun (and nearly 50 points higher than Ryan Theriot's as well). For that reason, he's much better-suited for the two-hole, where he can get on base for Lee, Ramirez, Soto and Soriano.

However, I'm not sure why Theriot was dropped all the way to eighth. He's hitting 60 points higher than Fontenot, and has the highest average on the team. It's a waste of his ability to have him right in front of the pitcher where he won't see many pitches to hit. I'd prefer to see Theriot seventh and Fontenot behind him.

The Cubs have started a lot of positive trends in the second half, but here's a negative one that they need to buck: they're now 2-5 against teams above .500.

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