Notes of Interest

  • Tonight’s game against Maholm is the 11th game against a lefty this month (We’re 6-4 so far so cross your fingers as that looks good.
  • On the other hand, we’ve lost the opening game in a series for the past nine straight series. (So much for that win we hoped for)
  • Cubs pitchers have a 3.62 ERA (236 ER/587.0 IP) from the second inning and later this season, but have posted a 6.72 ERA (56 ER/75.0 IP) in the first inning
  • Steve Stone mentioned that he thinks the Cubs should consider shifting Carlos Zambrano to 1B to backup Derrek Lee (Source). I have to wonder if that’s just Stone being a jackass like he has been since leaving the Cubs organization.
  • Brett Jackson has been promoted to AA-Tennessee. I’ve been impressed with Jackson this year and I’m anxious to see how he does with the promotion because he tore up A ball in a tough Florida State league to hit the baseball. To make room for him, Ty Wright was promoted to AAA Iowa, which is also exciting based on how he’s hit this year. (Source)

Probable Pitching Matchups

Paul Maholm (4-6, 4.24 ERA) vs. Randy Wells (3-6, 5.21 ERA)

Maholm would like to forget absolutely everything from his last outing, one which lasted a career-short one inning. The left-hander was missing with all his pitches, and when he wasn’t walking hitters, the pitches were right down the middle. He faced just 15 hitters. Four of them walked and seven got hits. Still, the outing was an anomaly for Maholm, who has been the Pirates’ most consistent starter all year. Prior to Wednesday, he hadn’t allowed more than four runs in any of his first 14 starts this year. Maholm is 6-1 with a 6.29 ERA in 11 career starts against the Cubs.

Strength – His best attribute is his razor-sharp command of a deep arsenal of pitches. Can throw his fastball, change-up, curve and slider for first-pitch strikes. Is a workhorse and a leader.

Weakness – Would be better if he cut down on the number of base-runners he puts on via either hit or walk. Lacks a dominant pitch and right-handed bats have an easier time against him.

Wells is looking for his first win since April 30. The right-hander is coming off a loss to Seattle in which he gave up six runs on 10 hits over six innings. He has gone winless in May and June, serving up 20 earned runs in 61 1/3 innings in those two months so far. He’s 0-1 in two starts against the Pirates, including a loss May 6 when he gave up six earned runs on five hits in two innings.

Jeff Karstens (2-2, 4.60 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (2-6, 3.28 ERA)

Karstens battled through 5 1/3 innings in his last start, but was denied a third win when the Pirates’ bullpen couldn’t a two-run lead. Karstens wasn’t lights out, but given that he was facing baseball’s hottest team at the time, he did well in limiting Texas to two earned runs on seven hits. Karstens continues to be a stabilizing force in the Pirates’ rotation and has not allowed more than four runs in a start since returning to the rotation on May 24. Karstens has made five previous appearances (four starts) against the Cubs. He is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA.

Strength – Is versatile enough to start or relieve as necessary. Has proven capable of pitching effectively in the rotation in the minors.

Weakness – Is far too hittable at the major-league level and also lacks the ability to strike batters out with consistency.

Lilly did not get a decision in his last start June 24 against the Mariners. He gave up one run on five hits over six innings. He has only one win in his last 11 starts. The lefty is 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA in three games against the Pirates this season.

Brad Lincoln (0-2, 6.00 ERA) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (2-5, 3.41 ERA)

Lincoln’s outing Friday was his fourth start of the season. His performance — six innings, three earned runs, eight hits — was similar to his others and only lowered his ERA from 6.50 to 6.00. Lincoln’s fastball command was off early in the game, and he said he didn’t attack the strike zone like he’s capable of. He threw 107 pitches, 63 for strikes.

Strength – Is a consistent strike-thrower who is usually around the plate. Does well in pitching to contact. Has a winning mentality when on the mound.

Weakness – Lacks ideal size for a pitcher. Has trouble with the long ball and is a bit too hittable, overall. Hitters are a bit too comfortable at the plate against him.

Gorzelanny will replace Carlos Zambrano in the Cubs rotation. Zambrano was bumped after inappropriate comments and a tantrum last Friday. Gorzelanny began the season in the rotation but was moved when Zambrano didn’t like his relief role. Gorzelanny has made six relief appearances, including last Friday when he went 3 1/3 innings after Zambrano was pulled. He’ll be facing his former team for the second time this year. He did not get a decision in a loss May 14.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail