MLB.com Scouting Reports
Ryan Dempster v. Jeff Suppan
Dempster should be 3-0. In his two starts in which he did not get a decision, he has given up two earned runs over 13 2/3 innings. In his lone win, which was against Milwaukee, he wasn’t as sharp, serving up five runs over 6 1/3 innings. The good news about his last outing against the Astros on Sunday was he bounced back fine after throwing 114 pitches vs. the Brewers on April 12. Ryan Braun homered off Dempster in the last meeting at Wrigley Field and is 6-for-26 lifetime off the right-hander.
The Brewers bumped Suppan’s start a few days in order to split their two left-handers in the rotation, and the result is that the veteran right-hander will make his second start of the season after seven days’ rest. Suppan started the year on the disabled list with a neck injury and was only so-so against the Cubs on a wind-blown afternoon at Wrigley Field on April 15, allowing four runs on six hits in five innings. Suppan surrendered home runs to Derrek Lee and Marlon Byrd that probably would have cleared the fence even without a stiff breeze blowing straight out, and he’ll have to keep the Cubs in the ballpark to have success in the rematch. Suppan was 3-8 with a 6.39 ERA at Miller Park last year.
Ted Lilly v. Doug Davis
Lilly returns to the Cubs rotation after passing all the tests in his rehab. He’s coming back from arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. He made his last Minor League start Monday in Peoria. In that game, Lilly threw threw 88 pitches over seven innings and picked up the win. He struck out nine and gave up one run on three hits and one walk. Of his total pitches, 63 were strikes. The lefty also singled and was thrown out trying to steal. The shoulder actually has been the least of his problems as he was slowed this spring by the flu and then early in April by back problems.
The Brewers aren’t about to bail on Davis after three starts, but it’s time for the left-hander to start pitching to his track record. Davis has been steady as she goes since resurrecting his career in Milwaukee in 2003, but his first three starts of the reunion tour have been forgettable. He has yet to pitch past the fifth inning and couldn’t hold a 10-0, first-inning lead in Washington on Sunday. Davis was lifted with two outs in the fifth inning and the Brewers had to hold off a Nationals charge for an 11-7 win. Davis will continue to get the ball “for right now,” manager Ken Macha said on Tuesday, hardly a ringing endorsement.
Randy Wells v. Dave Bush
This would’ve been Carlos Zambrano’s turn in the rotation but he’s now in the bullpen. Wells stays on schedule. In his last start Monday against the Mets, Wells gave up one run on six hits over six innings but did not get the win as the bullpen imploded. He faced the Brewers on April 14 at Wrigley Field and struck out the side to start the game, then got into trouble in the fifth. He finished giving up 10 hits, four runs, and striking out seven over 6 1/3 innings.
Bush delivered seven shutout innings against the Pirates on Tuesday just when the team needed a quality outing. He allowed only three hits — two of them to Andrew McCutchen and the other an infield single to pinch-hitter John Raynor, who was promptly erased on a double play. Bush notched his first win of the season but could easily be 3-0; he exited with the lead on April 9 against the Cardinals and April 14 against the Cubs, only to see the game slip away each time by a reliever.
Golden Brewer Nuggets
Notes for the series are again provided from our friends at Brew Crew Ball:
This may not be the best time to be facing the Brewers’ bats or, in the case of Ted Lilly, making your 2010 debut against them. The Brewers are coming off a series where they scored 36 runs in three games against the Pirates, and scored 11 in the final game of their series with the Nationals as well. Even Prince Fielder, who had been held homerless through 14 games, picked up his first of the season Thursday.
For the second consecutive meeting, though, the Cubs are going to see the worst starting pitching the Brewers have to offer. Dave Bush has been very good in 2010, but Doug Davis has been absolutely awful (11.25 ERA, 2.5 WHIP in his first 3 starts), and Jeff Suppan is the textbook definition of “atrocious.” If the Cubs can hold the Brewers somewhere in the low teens in runs scored in Davis and Suppan’s starts, they might be able to stay in the game.
Finally, the Brewer bullpen is in a bit of a state of flux. Despite the Brewers winning four straight games, Trevor Hoffman has pitched just one time in the last week (the ninth of Thursday’s 20-0 blowout). LaTroy Hawkins has also only pitched twice (and blown another save) since blowing a game against the Cubs when these teams met the last time. Meanwhile, lefty Manny Parra, who has been a starter throughout his professional career, has pitched in relief in five of the team’s last six games.