Archive | Ryan Dempster

Dempster, Marmol, Lee – Different Night, Same Story

Posted on 15 September 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Seems like the Cubs have developed a winning recipe long after the season is over…  Good outings by the starting pitcher and Carlos Marmol and a clutch hit by Derrek Lee. I feel like I am writing the same thing over and over when it comes to recent Cubs wins.

I guess I should be happy.  The starting pitching has been solid all year long.  With Ryan Dempster’s win on Monday night (2-0 over the Brewers), the Cubs now have 3 starters with at least 10 victories.  With Carlos Zambrano sitting on 8 wins and Rich Harden sitting on 9 wins, that number should be 5 when the season ends on October 4th.  Dempster had his best start of 2009 on Monday night – he looked like the Ryan Dempster of 2008, focused, throwing strikes, hitting his spots.  Dempster needed just 108 pitches to throw 8 scoreless innings, giving up just 4 hits and 1 walk.  Yeah!

Carlos Marmol rebounded from his non-save situation loss on Saturday afternoon, pitching a scoreless 9th inning with 1 walk and 1 strikeout.  Make it 9 out of 9 for Marmol in save situations since being named the Cubs closer.

And as for Derrek Lee, he just keeps on hitting.  Lee had 2 hits in Monday’s win, including his 33rd home run of the year.  He is hitting .304 on the 2009 MLB campaign and he has his OPS up to .966.  Aramis Ramirez also came through with 2 hits and he now has his batting average up to .324.

Although it is definitely too little too late, I am very happy with the performance by some of these guys down the stretch.  As I have said before, the pitching staff has been mostly good all throughout the 2009 MLB schedule (the team’s 3.85 ERA is still he 5th best ERA in all of baseball).  Even in a year in which the bats completely deserted the club for long stretches at a time, the pitchers never really lost focus, and the team has still managed to win 74 games to date.  The Cubs offense still has the 5th worst batting average in all of baseball.  I’m not sure what the Cubs can do in the off-season to tweak the lineup (with the new ownership situation and limited payroll flexibility) to improve the offense.  But one would think that with a move here or there, and with more productive seasons from Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto, there have gotta be a few more wins out there to put the club back into a playoff contender in 2010.  Wishful thinking?  Maybe, but at this point, we gotta do something…

Brewers Cubs Baseball

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Cubs Starters, Marmol Continue to Shine Down Stretch…

Posted on 10 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

I know I keep harping on this, but with the Cubs so far out of it (11.5 games behind Cardinals; 8.5 games behind Rockies), we’ve gotta cling to something.

Overall, it has been a productive season for the Cubs starting pitchers.  And Carlos Marmol has really gotten his act together since Manager Lou Pinella promoted him to the closer’s role.  The number’s don’t lie:

Carlos Zambrano picked up his 8th win on Wednesday afternoon.  He pitched 6 strong innings, giving up just 2 ER on 5 hits and 3 walks.  If Kosuke Fukodome had made that incredible diving catch in center field on the 2-run double, it would have been 6 scoreless innings for Big Z.  Zambrano is 8-6 overall – he has made 24 starts, with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.  Too many walks – 66 in 143+ innings, but the under 4 ERA and 123 K’s are nice.

Randy Wells – we’ve been on his badnwagon since he made his 1st Cubs start back in May.  What’s not to like – 10-8 record; 22 starts; 139+ innings; 2.84 ERA; 1.22 WHIP.  Gotta love the 35 walks and 84 K’s.  The lower walk and K numbers mean less pitches and longer outings, which means good things for your bullpen and the team.  Let the other team put the ball in play and make outs.

Ted Lilly – talk about consistent.  11-8; 24 starts; 156+ innings; 3.17 ERA and 1.07 WHIP.  Think Lilly likes pitching in the NL as opposed to the AL East where he pitched for the Yankees and Blue Jays for 6 seasons?  His strikeout to walk ratio is incredible – 130 to 32?!  WOW.  Not much else to say.

Ryan Dempster – although it has been a disappointing season for Dempster, especially after his 17-win season in 2008, he has had enough really good starts to make his numbers look adequate.  9-8; 26 starts (leads team); 163 innings (leads team); 4.03 ERA; and 1.38 WHIP.  While his bonehead broken toe injury in July hurt the club, and his inconsistency was tough to explain at times, Dempster is a good starter to have on your staff.  Let’s hope a few good outings down the stretch here in 2009 will give him a little confidence to keep his head during a rigorous off-season workout regimen.

Rich Harden – although he will likely be gone in 2010, Harden has been a valuable cog for Pinella and the Cubs. 9-8; 24 starts; 134 innings; 4.10 ERA; and 1.30 WHIP.  His numbers are eerily similar to Dempster, but his high walk (59) and strikeout (162) numbers always lead to high pitch counts.  Not good for Harden who has had a history of arm issues or for the Cubs bullpen.  Harden’s outings are usually 5 or 6 innings, and that can take its toll over the course of a long MLB season.  Harden pitched 7 innings only 5 times all season long.  That’s not enough.

What’s scary about these numbers is that the Cubs will likely end the season with 5 starting pitchers with 10 wins each.  With a team as bad as they are in 2009, that is a pretty impressive stat.  Makes you wonder what would have come of this team if Kevin Gregg hadn’t blown so many saves, and if the Cubs offense had been even just a little bit more consistent.

We’ve already highlighted Carlos Marmol a bunch of times since Pinella promoted him to closer, but make it 7 for 7 save conversions for Marmol with Wednesday’s save in Pittsburgh.  Marmol now has 11 saves on the season, and he has 12 K’s and 3 walks in save situations (7 1/3 innings).  Pretty damn good.

Let’s hope the Cubs can keep it up the rest of the way – even though it will be tough to deal with the disappointing 2009 season, maybe they can take some solace in the fact that there were some bright spots along the way…

Cubs Pirates Baseball

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Cubs Tie Record with 7-Run 1st Inning; Lee, Baker Raking @ the Plate

Posted on 09 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

The Cubs tied a major league record on Tuesday night when the 1st 8 batters all reached base on hits (6 singles and 2 doubles).  The Cubs scored 7 runs in the inning en route to a 9-4 win.  The Cubs were the 1st team to accomplish the feat way back in the 1920’s.  The New York Yankees were the last team to do it in September 1990.

Ryan Dempster picked up his 9th win of the season.  It was not a great outing – 6 1/3 innings, 4 ER, 8 hits and 2 walks, with 4 K’s – but a win is a win at this point of the season.

2 Cubs players have quietly put together solid seasons thus far.

After a slow start in April (a .189 batting average at the end of the month), Derrek Lee has been the Cubs most consistent hitter all season long.  With 2 hits in the win, Lee’s batting average is now right at .300.  He has a .379 on-base percentage and a .573 slugging percentage.  Lee leads the team in HR’s (31); RBI’s (96); and runs scored (74).  He has even dealt with neck/upper back spasms for much of the season, but has still managed to play in 122 games and hit 464 at-bats.  Especially with Aramis Ramirez missing 2 months with a dislocated shoulder and the under performance by several key players – Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley, Geovany Soto – the presence of Lee in the lineup each and every day has been invaluable.

Mid-season acquisition Jeff Baker has also been a pleasant surprise for the Cubs in the infield.  Since coming over from the Rockies in July, Baker has played in 47 games, getting 126 at-bats along the way.  Baker has played 3 infield positions – 2nd base, 1st base and 3rd base.  Baker has a .341 batting average with a solid 399 on-base percentage.  In a limited role, Baker has hit 3 HR’s, driven in 13 runs and scored 18 runs.  Baker has had 3 multi-hit games in the last 5 games played and at age 28, he is making a case that he could be the Cubs starting 2nd baseman of the future.

It’s great to see some of these guys still giving it their all day in and day out down the stretch here in 2009.  At 70-67, even though the Cubs still trail the Cards by 11.5 games and the Rockies by 8 games, these guys still realize there is a lot to play for – at least personally.  Good luck!

Cubs Pirates Baseball

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Cubs Offense, Defense Wastes Another Good Start in 5-0 Loss to White Sox

Posted on 04 September 2009 by Lou

White Sox Cubs Baseball

Can it get any uglier?  Well, yes.  Although Ryan Dempster did not have his best stuff, he still should have come away with nothing worse than a no decision.  Instead, because of shoddy defense and the continued inability of the Cubs to manufacture any offense whatsoever, Dempster dropped his 8th game of the year.  Dempster gave up 9 hits and 1 walk, and all 3 runs scored off of Dempster were unearned.

In the 2nd inning, Jake Fox failed to catch an easy pick off attempt from Dempster, allowing a runner to reach 2nd base with 2 outs.  That runner scored on the next pitch on a single by Alexei Ramirez. One unearned run.

In the 8th inning, the disaster that is Alfonso Soriano strck again.  With Gordon Beckham on 1st base, A.J. Pierzynski hit a lazy fly ball down the left field line.  Soriano got to the right spot and was about to make the catch, but for some reason, he just slipped.  Beckham scored all the way from 1st base and Pierzynski reached 3rd base on the Soriano error.  Pierzynski then came around to score on Paul Konerko’s soft single to left field.  2 more unearned runs.

Bad, bad, bad…

Dempster lowered his ERA under 4 with the 7 “scoreless” innings to 3.96 – giving the Cubs starting rotation with 2 pitchers under a 4.00 ERA and 1 pitcher under a 3.00 ERA.  Good, good, good.

But more bad please – the Cubs offense.  The Cubs squared off against Carlos Torres.  In his only 2 previous major league starts (in July & August of this year), Torres was lit up for 7 ER on 9 hits and 9 walks in just 7 1/3 innings of work – good for a 6.75 ERA and a 2.50 WHIP! Any other team would tee off on this guy, or at least work the count to make him throw more pitches and potentially get himself into trouble.  But not the Cubs.  Torres pitched 7 scoreless innings, giving up just 5 hits and no walks.  Jake Fox had 2 of the Cubs hits, but was thrown out at home in the bottom of the 7th inning on a great throw by DeWayne Wise on Jeff Baker’s single to right field.  3rd base coach Quade probably should not have sent the slow-running Fox home on the single to right field, but in any event, the Cubs can never seem to do anything right in 2009.

Not that anyone probably cares anymore, but:

The Cubs trails the Cardinals by 10.5 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 6 games in the NL Wild Card race.  Technically not out of it, but really not any closer than the Nationals who are “technically” 28 games behind the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race…

White Sox Cubs Baseball

White Sox Cubs Baseball

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Lilly, Marmol Shine – Offense Still Lifeless…

Posted on 03 September 2009 by Lou

Astros Cubs Baseball

If baseball rules didn’t require you to score any runs to earn a win or earn points, the Cubs would be one of the best teams in baseball with their solid pitching effort in 2009.  After Wednesday’s 2-0 shutout over the Astros, the Cubs still had the 5th best team ERA in all of MLB at 3.90.  If you took out their relievers numbers, the Cubs are close to the top of the list for starting pitching ERA numbers in 2009 (Randy Wells 2.90; Ted Lilly 3.17; Carlos Zambrano 3.91; Ryan Dempster 4.15; & Rich Harden 4.19).  At least that gives the Cubs some solace for turning things around in 2009…

Ted Lilly threw 8 shutout innings and would have been in line for a complete game shutout had he not topped 100 pitches after the 8 innings.  Lilly allowed only 4 base runners all day – 2 singles and 2 doubles (none in the same inning), no walks – so he was never in any real trouble all day long.  Lilly had 5 K’s.  And congrats to Carlos Marmol for picking up his 4th save in 4 chances since taking over the closer’s role.  Marmol did issue a 1-out walk to Hunter Pence, but it was a good at-bat for Pence who really worked the count on Marmol.  And even though Carlos Lee singled to make it 1st and 2nd with only 1 out, Marmol buckled down to get Miguel Tejada and Geoff Blum on flyouts to end the game and preserve the Cubs 2-0 win.

As for the offense, or lack of it, the Cubs managed just 4 hits and 3 walks, and never really had any real scoring chances.  Lilly even had one of the Cubs hits.  If not for Derrek Lee’s home run after Andres Blanco’s double in the 4th inning, the 2 teams might still be playing.  The Cubs offense is a complete joke – their .254 team batting average has them tied for 3rd worst in all of baseball with 3 other teams – the Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks.  Only the Cincinnati Reds (.244) and San Diego Padres (.242) have worse batting averages.  Not good my friends.

Here’s hoping for a healthy pitching staff in 2010 and a LOT of shutouts…

Astros Cubs Baseball

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Wells Notches 10th Win; Wells & Marmol Soldifying Starter & Closer Roles for 2010

Posted on 02 September 2009 by Lou

Astros Cubs Baseball

Randy Wells notched his 10th win on Tuesday at Wrigley Field, defeating the Astros 4-1.  Wells pitched into the 7th inning giving up just 1 unearned run.  Wells gave up 7 hits and 2 walks, but struck out 5.  John Grabow got Wells out of the 8th inning after a 2-out walk to Jason Michaels with 1 run already in in the inning.  Wells is clearly a man on a mission in 2009.  Wells has made every start (21 total) that has been asked of him since a May 8th start against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee.  He has pitched 133 1/3 innings, striking out 82 while walking just 35.  He has pitched at least 5 innings in all but 1 of his starts.  If not for 4 no decisions when he left the game with the lead, we could be looking at a 15-game winner here in a shortened season.  The Cubs have got to be thrilled to have the devlopment of Wells during an otherwise frustrating 2009 MLB schedule.  Wells just turned 27 years old and he has a lot of good years ahead of him.  It would be wise for Manager Lou Pinella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild to keep a close eye on his pitch counts during his last 5-6 starts of the season.  That’s probably why they took him out of last night’s game after just 94 pitches.  Good move in the long run.

Ted Lilly and Wells have been the Cubs most consistent pitchers in 2009.  While Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster have had off years (just 15 wins combined after the 2 combined for 31 totals win in 2008), Zambrano and Dempster are proven veterans capable of returning to the form that warranted signing each of them to long-term deals in 2008.  If Zambrano and Dempster show up in 2010, the Cubs will have a nice starting 4 locked in for the 2010 rotation.  The Cubs will likely not sign Rich Harden, as we have discussed before, so they will be in the market for a 5th starter to round out the starting rotation.

Keeping on the pitching front, Carlos Marmol appears to have settled right into the closer’s role.  Since taking over for Kevin Gregg at the end of August, Marmol has converted each of the 3 save opportunities given too him.  In each of those saves, he has not allowed more than 1 runner to reach base in the 9th inning.  He has 9 strikeouts in his last 4 innings pitched, and the confidence just seems to keep building and building.  His only bad outing since taking over the closer’s role was when Pinella threw him into a non-save situation against the Nationals when the Cubs blew open a 3-2 lead with 6 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning as Marmol was warming up to enter to save the game.  Instead of opting to use someone else (Marmol hadn’t pitched in 3 days leading up to that game), Pinella stayed with him to give him some work.  Marmol ended up giving up 2 ER on 3 walks and a hit, but finished the inning.  It would be great to see Marmol to finish on a positive note during the rest of the 2009 MLB schedule.  That will take out some of the uncertainty with the closer position heading into spring training.

And who knows, this could be a huge move for Kevin Gregg as well – not having to pitch in the pressure position as the closer.  Since his demotion, Gregg has not allowed a single run, pitching 6 innings in 6 appearances, giving up just 2 hits and 1 walk along the way.  He has 5 K’s during that stretch.  If Gregg can get comfortable in the 7th or 8th inning set-up role, the Cubs could start to put together a strong “re-vamped” bullpen with John Grabow and Angel Guzman as well.

Hate to start to think positive thoughts for 2010, but as bad as it’s been this year, you would have to think that things can only get better…

Astros Cubs Baseball

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Harden Serves Up Another Good Start – Should Cubs Re-Sign Him?

Posted on 27 August 2009 by Lou

Nationals Cubs Baseball

Although Rich Harden took a no decision in Wednesday night’s 9-4 win over the Nationals at Wrigley Field, he turned in another stellar start in a very impressive 2nd half of 2009.  Harden worked through a shaky 1st inning and held the Nats to just 2 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings.  His pitch count was a bit high – 96 pitches – but it was his 8th straight since the all-star break in which he has not allowed more than 2 ER in an outing.  Very impressive for someone that entered the 2009 MLB schedule with a lot of question marks.

Harden now has 22 starts on the season and if he stays healthy the rest of the way, he should get at least another 7 starts before the season ends.  I remember most Cubs critics and fans saying that if Harden made 25 starts for the Cubs in 2009, that would be a huge success.  Harden has 8 wins and his ERA is under 4.00 (at 3.99) for the 1st time since April 26th after he held the Cardinals to just 2 ER in a 10-3 Cubs win in St. Louis.  Harden has made at least 22 starts in a season only 2 other times – back in 2004 (31 starts) and 2005 (22 starts).  With his 2009 performance, and his ability to prove to all other MLB clubs that he can stay healthy for a good portion of the year, he will likely be pursued hard in the off-season.  And that’s when the question becomes – should the Cubs sign him to a long-term deal?

A few things work against the Cubs on this one.  With the tenuous ownership situation, who knows when the new ownership team will be in place to determine a course of action for the off-season free agency period.  The Cubs will likely be at a disadvantage against other clubs as a new team might not be able to give GM Jim Hendry adequate guidance as to whom he can and cannot pursue this off-season.  Further, with close to $150 million already committed to athletes locked in for the 2010 MLB schedule, there will be little room to add significant payroll this off-season, especially with the new ownership group getting adjusted to life as a MLB team owner.  Lastly, there still has to be some concern with Harden’s health as a major league starter.  Harden spent some time on the DL at the end of 2008 with a “tired arm” and he had a stint on the DL again this past May-June and missed about 5 starts over a 3-week period.  Given past problems with pitchers with histories of arm woes – Mark Prior, Kerry Wood – I have a feeling that the Cubs won’t gamble on signing Harden to a long-term deal.

Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly are all locked in for 2010.  Randy Wells has emerged as a legitimate major league pitcher – 19 starts, 120 1/3 innings pitched, 1.20 WHIP, 2.84 ERA and will likely serve as the team’s 4th starter in 2010.  Sean Marshall can also return to a starting role and Jeff Samardzija, despite his struggles in 2009, is also seen as a viable starting pitcher down the line.

As for the 9-4 win, Koyie Hill was the Cubs offensive hero, going 3 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  Hill scored the go-ahead run on Milton Bardley’s fielder’s choice groundout in the 7th inning and he broke the game open with a 2-out, 2-run double in the 8th inning that gave the Cubs a 5-2 lead.  The Cubs went on to score 6 insurance runs in the 8th inning.  Milton Bradley went 1 for 3 with a 2-run home run that gave the Cubs their 1st lead of the game in the 3rd inning.  Bradley had 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored on the night.

At 63-61, the Cubs still trail the Cards by 9 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 7.5 games in the NL Wild Card race.  Not good…

Nationals Cubs Baseball

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It’s Do Or Die for Cubs with Upcoming 10-Game Homestand @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 25 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Milton Bradley Risk 1

It’s do or die time for the Cubs with a HUGE 10-game homestand at Wrigley Field.  As I wrote yesterday, the Cubs are one of the better home teams in the National League (35-22).  The Cubs are 7.5 games back of the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race and 8 games back of the Cards in the NL Central race.  The Cubs have an “easy” 10-game homestand “teed up for them” to crush 350 yards straight down the fairway – 3 games against the Nationals (44-81); 3 games against the Mets (57-68) who will be without ace Johan Santana for the rest of the season; 3 games against the Astros (61-63) and 1 make-up game against the White Sox (63-62).

The Cubs have all 5 starters back and healthy – – Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Randy Wells, Ted Lilly & Ryan Dempster.  Now all they need to do is win – a tough task for this frustrating, struggling 2009 Cubs ball club.

The Cubs have the 5th best team ERA in all of baseball at 3.88 – take out the relievers ERA and the Cubs starting staff has the best ERA in the big leagues.  But when you look at the offensive stats, the numbers are “startlingly” bad…  Tied for 3rd worst with a .253 batting average; 9th worst in runs scored and RBI’s; and 12th worst in slugging percentage and on-base percentage.  This coming from the team that led the National League in run production in 2008.  Awful seasons from Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot, and long stints on the DL for Aramis Ramirez and Reed Johnson have contributed to the Cubs futility this year at the plate.  Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Kosuke Fukodome are the only 3 players who have had somewhat consistent years at the plate.

It’s time for Manager Lou Pinella to give some more playing time to some of the Cubs young stars like Sam Fuld and Jake Fox.  Fuld (.283 batting average; .397 on-base percentage) and Fox (.305 batting average; .355 on-base percentage; 9 HR’s; 19 runs & 34 RBI’s) have been hitting the ball well and most importantly, they have been playing hard, unlike some of the efforts we’re seeing from Bradley and Soriano all season long.  If Pinella and the Cubs are serious about making a run before the end of the 2009 MLB schedule, the time is now.

Here’s hoping Pinella wakes up and smells the coffee and that the Cubs can actually mount some sort of offensive attack against the weak-hitting Nats and Mets in the next 6 games at Wrigley Field.  Big Z has a chance to prove why he is the Cubs “ace” – a good start tonight will go a long way in determining whether or not this team has what it takes to make the 2009 post-season…

Astros Cubs Baseball

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Call Me Crazy – But Maybe the Season Isn’t Over?!

Posted on 24 August 2009 by Lou

cubs

Call me crazy, but maybe the 2009 Cubs season isn’t really over…  The Cubs are 62-60 and they trail the Cards by 8 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 7 games in the NL Wild Card race.  Now don’t get me wrong – the Cubs are a bad baseball teams as a whole.  After a great start to the post-All-Star Break stretch run in July, they are just 8-13 in August, and they have lost 10 of their last 14 games.

But if you look at their schedule and where they play the vast majority of their games, it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom.  The Cubs have 40 games left on their 2009 MLB schedule – 24 of those games are at home at Wrigley Field where they are 35-22.  The other 16 games are on the road, and 7 of those road games are against 2 teams they are chasing to make the playoffs – the Cardinals (9/18-20) and the Giants (9/24-27).

Take it a step further, and you see that of the 40 games remaining, only 8 games are against team with winning records:

9/3 White Sox 63-61 – home game;

9/18-20 Cards 72-54 – in St. Louis; and

9/24-27 Giants 67-57 – in San Francisco.

The other 32 games breakdown as follows:

Washington Nationals 44-80 – 3 games at Wrigley Field;

New York Mets 57-68 – 3 games at Wrigley Field & 3 games at CITI Field;

Houston Astros 61-63 – 3 games at Wrigley Field;

Pittsburgh Pirates 51-71 – 3 games in Pittsburgh & 4 games at Wrigley Field;

Cincinnati Reds 52-71 – 3 games at Wrigley Field;

Milwaukee Brewers 60-63 – 4 games at Wrigley Field & 3 games at Miller Park; &

Arizona Diamondbacks 55-70 – 3 games at Wrigley Field.

Now don’t get me wrong, do I really think the Cubs have what it takes to pull this off?  No.  But with the schedule and the fact that the Cubs starting pitching – Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster & Randy Wells – is still top 5 in the entire major leagues in 2009, anything is possible.  If the joke of a Cubs offense actually puts up 4 or 5 runs every so often, the Cubs might actually put a little streak together.  The Cubs will need a lot of help from the Rockies, Giants, Braves and Marlins to start losing, but if that happens, the last week of the season could be interesting with the Cubs playing 7 games against the struggling Pirates and Diamondbacks at home to end the 2009 campaign…

chicago cubs win scoreboard

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Big Z’s Back & He’s Bigger Ummm… Better than Before

Posted on 23 August 2009 by Lou

carlos cubs

The Cubs are anxiously waiting the return of their ace Carlos Zambrano.  Big Z – after admitting he is lazy and doesn’t like to do his ab work – is scheduled to face Garrett Mock and the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.  Hip Hip Hooray!  Big Z needs to focus more on throwing strikes and getting guys out than giving piggyback rides in the dugout and eating bon bons.

Big Z has been dealing with back pain and back spasms since the beginning of August.  Zambrano tossed 5 scoreless innings at Triple-A Peoria on Thursday night and is ready to go against the Nats this week.  Big Z has a 7-4 record with a 1.35 WHIP and a 3.35 ERA – definitely the numbers you’d expect from the ace of your staff.  Mock has a 2-5 record with a 1.83 WHIP and a 5.10 ERA.  Think there was a reason the Cubs held him back to start Tuesday against the Nats and then Sunday against the Mets instead of this past weekend against the Dodgers in L.A.?

As for the Cubs game action on Saturday and Sunday…

About the only thing Cubs fans have to look forward to in 2010 is good starting pitching…

carlos zambrano

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