With the Cubs continuing to get good starting pitching on an-almost daily basis, the rest of the NL Central better be on notice about the Chicago Cubs. The stellar Cubs pitching has kept the Cubs within striking distance of the NL Central leaders throughout the 2009 MLB schedule. The lack of offense has kept the number of wins down, but with the bats starting to come alive with the resurgence of Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano, the wins have started piling up as the pitchng continues to excel.
This weekend was a perfect example.
Randy Wells has been one of the Cubs most consistent pitchers in 2009. Wells has made 14 starts in 2009, pitching at least 5 innings in all but 1 starts. He has not allowed more than 4 earned runs in any of his starts, and even then, he has done that only 3 times. Wells has a fantastic strikeout to walk ratio (59 to 19) and his low WHIP (1.16) demonstrates that. In Friday’s win over the Reds (his 6th of the season), Wells pitched 6 innings, giving up just 3 earned runs on one bad pitch – a 3-run HR to the Reds pitcher. Wells has won 6 of his last 7 decisions. It would be hard to imagine the Cubs being where they are without the solid pitching of Wells this year. Having Wells in the starting rotation has allowed Manger Lou Pinella to move Sean Marshall back to the bullpen as the Cubs lone lefty in the pen.
On Saturday, Kevin Hart delivered another solid start filling in for the injured Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly. His 6-inning, 1-run, 5-hit performance helped him notch his 2nd consecutive victory. More importantly, Hart walked only 1 batter – in each of his previous 5-inning starts, Hart had walked 5 batters. This is a good sign for the Cubs as Ted Lilly will continue to be on the DL for at least 3 more weeks after undergoing surgery on his left knee today.
On Sunday, Rich Harden had one of his best starts of the year. Harden gave up a solo home run to the 3rd batter of the game – Joey Votto – but retired the other 18 batters he faced, including the final 16 batters in a row. Harden needed only 90 pitches to notch his 7th win of the season. Harden has given up only 1 run in each of his last 3 starts. This outing was even more special because of the struggles he has had this year during the day (1-5; 7.38 ERA) and at home at Wrigley Field (2-5; 7.59 ERA).
Carlos Zambrano has been a mainstay in the rotation as well (7-4; 3.48 ERA; 1.35 WHIP), while the Cubs expect to get Ryan Dempster back on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. Good news for Cubs fans all across the nation.