June 22nd, 2007
| W – C. Zambrano (8-6) L – M. Buehrle (4-4) S – None
Homeruns: A. Soriano (13) A. Ramirez (14) P. Konerko (12)
My Cubs emotions have been on a virtual roller coaster over the past few days. Michael Barrett was one of my favorite players and losing him frustrated me a little and took some of the wind out of my sails. Then we lose the Ranges series, one that I felt we should have swept, and I wasn’t too excited about this team coming into the series with the White (trash) Sox. Carlos Zambrano put his arm around my shoulder before the game and wispered sweet nothings in my ear about how it’s still a new season and that everything was going to be alright. Jumping out to a two run lead and watching him strike out batters at will, I started to believe him. By game’s end, I’m happy to announce that my spirits are back and my homer status has been restored. All is well in Wrigleyville, even though the Cubs are on the southside.
Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to announce that perhaps I was a bit hasty in my abandonment of Carlos. I declared about a month or so ago that I was done with Big Z. Thankfully Jim Hendry has not declared the same and the Cubs got a huge game out of him today. I was trying to think if I can remember a time when Z had nastier stuff than he had in the game today. As far as I can tell, this is the 4th time he’s reached 12 K’s in a game, the last coming in 2006 against Florida. The other two times were against the Cardinals in 2004 and 2005. The best thing about today’s outing was the fact that he only walked one hitter and pretty much kept the White (trash) Sox off the basepaths all game. The problem I have is the fact that once again, Z threw over 110 pitches. I mentioned the Pitcher Abuse Points from Baseball Prospectus recently in one of the game recaps. At that time, Zambrano was 2nd, behind A.J. Burnett. Coming into today’s start, he ranked 1st. I’m not one to only look at pitch count as a reason for pulling a pitcher. You’ve got to look at other factors like velocity, arm history, etc., but the high pitch counts make me nervous when they come in sequence like they have over the last few starts. I’d really like to see him pitch under 100 in his next outing and then get the extra day of rest with the off day next Thursday.
The Cubs got out on Mark Buehrle early, which is what you need to do against a guy like that. Buehrle is the type of pitcher that will settle down as the game goes on, and that was the case today. The Cubs had Buehrle’s pitch count rising fast and it looked like we would get to that putrid bullpen of the White (trash) Sox. I took a look at the numbers before the game and saw that the White (trash) Sox have actually dropped below the Devil Rays bullpen in futility. As a core, the pen has pitched to a tune of a 5.87 ERA coming into the game, which is well above the ML Average of 4.10. On the other hand, the Cubs pen, which was terrible early has not risen to 19th and actually has an ERA below the average. Things are looking up in that department for us. That being said, the Cubs have to make sure they take as many pitches as they can at the plate for the rest of this series in an effort to get into that pen. Ozzie went pitcher crazy this afternoon, so the more we can get them in there, the more runs we should be able to put on the scoreboard. I judge patience at the plate from a pitches seen perspective of above 4 pitches seen = good at bat. The Cubs sent 36 hitters to the plate. Of those 36, only 16 of them were 5 pitches or more. Derrek Lee had 3 of them as did my new man crush, Rob Bowen. You gotta love guys that take pitches and we need to see more of it tomorrow against Vazquez, who for the first time in his career is allowing an average above 4 pitches per plate appearance. Let’s get to him early tomorrow.
I feel bad for Darren Erstad, who just came back off the DL and now could be headed back there after being pulled in the first inning due to an injury. I like Erstad a lot. He’s a great glove man and I was surprised to see the Angels let him go. Hopefully that leg will give him just enough trouble to make him sit out this weekend and come back on Monday fresh and renewed.
Misc. Notes of Interest
STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA
I’d like to do something a little different with the stars of the game. Instead of giving you numbers like (.025), I’d like to turn those into percentages. As you know, if you take out the 4% home field advantage, both teams come into the game with a 50% chance of winning. As things happen in the game, it shifts that probability one way or another. It’s kind of like a scale. Based on the Leverage Index of the situation (i.e. – How big that particular moment is), an event shifts the Win Probability a certain percent. That shift is credited positively and negatively to the hitter and pitcher based on that particular event. From now on, I’ll put the percentage that a player shifted the game total next to each star and how the turd of the game negatively shifted the game. Hope that helps a little toward understanding what this mess is all about.