View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



July 2009



Scouting The Starters – Houston Series

Written by , Posted in General

Here is the breakdown on the starting pitching matchups for the series against the Houston Astros.

Monday – Wandy Rodriguez (10-6, 2.72) vs. Carlos Zambrano (7-4, 3.48)

Rodriguez became Houston’s first 10-game winner this season by winning his fifth consecutive decision last time out against St. Louis. He had his scoreless innings snapped against the Cardinals in the second inning but didn’t waste any time in starting a new one. He had not allowed a run in 18 1/3 innings until Mark DeRosa hit a solo home run with one out in the second frame. After that, he did not allow another run, tossing seven innings, allowing four hits and giving up just the one run while striking out five. He has faced Chicago twice this season but has received tough-luck no-decisions in both starts. Last time out against the Cubs on June 10, he worked seven innings, allowing one run on five hits, striking out six. Rodriguez has a 1.38 ERA over 13 innings against the Cubs this season. (

When he’s on, he keeps his good fastball low in the zone and induces ground balls, while setting the heat up with a solid change and good breaking stuff. Command can be a problem at times. Must work on his approach with runners on, as well as his endurance beyond the sixth inning. A quality mid-rotation starter. (

Zambrano gave up a season-high 10 hits but got enough run support for a change to pick up his third straight win in his last start. He beat the Phillies, giving up five runs (four earned) over 6 2/3 innings. Big Z also struck out seven. He didn’t get a hit, which is a surprise. Zambrano has faced the Astros twice this year, winning on Opening Day, April 6, and not getting a decision June 10 despite holding Houston to one run on three hits over eight innings. (

TuesdayRoy Oswalt (6-4, 3.66) vs. Ryan Dempster (5-5, 4.09)

Through six innings Oswalt was spectacular against the Cardinals, efficiently throwing 59 pitches through six, but he ran into control issues in the seventh, allowing two runs in the inning to be out-dueled by Chris Carpenter. He would allow three runs on seven hits and strike out four over seven innings, taking and receive and no decision. He has faced the Cubs twice this season, going 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA. In his last start against the Cubs on May 16, he tossed six innings allowing three runs and striking out seven to receive a no decision. In his career, Oswalt is 12-12 with a 3.90 ERA in 28 appearances, including 27 starts against Chicago. (

He’s not a big man but manages to crank up the heat into the mid-90s and combine it with devastating pinpoint control. An innings-eater. Injuries have been the bane of his career since Day 1. Anyone who throws that hard at that size is bound to be injury prone. A Cy Young candidate every year. (

Dempster has been on the disabled list since July 8 because of a broken right big toe, but his rehab went well, and he will be activated about a week earlier than expected. The right-hander warmed up with a simulated game last Wednesday in Philadelphia, throwing 60 pitches, and was to throw another side session over the weekend. Give him credit for keeping his arm in shape during his rehab time. (

WednesdayMike Hampton (6-7, 4.74) vs. Randy Wells (6-4, 3.10)

In his last start against the New York Mets, Hampton wasn’t able to work out beyond the sixth inning, allowing four runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings, but he did provide the Astros with a boost at the plate, hitting his first home run since May 8, 2005, and the 16th of his career. He’s faced the Cubs once this season already, taking the loss on May 6 after allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. In 24 career appearances, including 20 starts, he is 9-5 with a 3.07 ERA against the Cubs. (

A battler with a good sense of deception. Always competitive on the mound, he’s a very good athlete who is a great hitter and fielder for a pitcher. Injuries have really taken their toll. With increasing age, he has lost a lot of zip off his fastball. Has always given up too many walks.
A serviceable mid-rotation starter, when healthy. (

Wells seems to like facing National League Central teams. In his last start, against the Reds, Wells picked up his ninth quality start and a victory. So far, he’s 2-1 with a 2.39 ERA against NL Central teams and 6-0 when he gets four runs of support or more. Against the Reds, Wells’ only mistake was serving up Aaron Harang’s first career homer. Wells was kicking himself after the game for the slider he hung. He’s still a rookie. (

ThursdayRuss Ortiz (3-5, 4.75) vs. Kevin Hart (2-1, 2.08)

Ortiz labored through 4 1/3 innings against the Mets last time out. He threw 96 pitches, allowing six runs on five hits and walking four in his outing. Ortiz has three appearances, including two starts against the Cubs this season, posting an 0-1 record with a 5.06 ERA over 10 2/3 innings versus the North-siders this year. In his last outing against them on June 11, Ortiz allowed no runs and just three hits over 5 1/3 innings but recieved a no decision. In his career, he is 3-5 with 5.23 ERA in 13 appearances, including 11 starts, against the Cubs. (

Although only a two-pitch pitcher, Ortiz throws both of them with considerable skill. His fastball has a lot of movement when in the low-90s range, and he is able to pump it into the mid-90s when necessary. He throws hitters off balance with his nice curve. Control has been Ortiz’s biggest drawback. He needs to emphasize his mechanics when he gets behind in the count. He also needs to focus on keeping runners close, especially when he doesn’t have his best stuff. Injuries and inconsistency have put his big-league creds in question. (

Hart thought his days as a starter would be over upon Ryan Dempster’s return, but with Ted Lilly going on the DL, the Cubs will be counting on the rookie right-hander. Hart picked up his second win in his last start, against the Reds on Saturday. He posted his longest outing, six innings, and gave up one run on five hits. In his first two starts, Hart had walked 10 and struck out four. Against the Reds, he said he found his groove — as well as his offspeed pitches — so he didn’t have to rely on his fastball alone. This is a makeup of a postponed game against the Astros. (