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April 2012

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COMMENTS

Cardinals Series Preview

Written by , Posted in General

The Cardinals are coming to town today, which means now would be a PERFECT time for the Cubs to break through and finally win a series.  The Cards bring with them an 11-5 record, an NL-best +36 run differential, and a 4-game lead over the rest of the division.  But they’ve had some injury issues already–we still won’t see Fat Elvis Lance Berkman, who is now on the DL.  Can the Cubs string together enough hits to be competitive?  Will the Carlos Beltran continue to treat Wrigley Field like his home-away-from-home?  Can Rafael Furcal continue to defy age and reason for another year?  Will Joe Mather or Tony Campana get the starts in CF?  What can new reliever Michael Bowden do to help steady the Cubs’ shaky bullpen?  (And not that it matters to many of you, but can the Blackhawks win in regulation at home tonight and force a Game 7 against the Coyotes?  Because I’m about one more OT away from a heart attack.  Seriously.)

Probable Pitching Matchups and Scouting Reports

Monday at 7:05pm CT – Jaime Garcia vs. Matt Garza

Garcia brings 2 wins and a 3.06 ERA to Wrigley, but he has yet to throw 90 pitches in a game.  A little patience at the plate tonight might help us get past the Cardinals number two starter–who Jonah Keri considers one of the 10 most underrated players in the bigs–in his first start against the Cubs this season.  And since he’s St. Louis’ only lefty, expect Dale to go with a right-handed lineup tonight behind Garza.  With Dempster on the DL, Garza gives the Cubs their best chance to hold back the Cardinals’ offense.  Let’s assume the two 2-run bombs he gave up in Miami were an anomaly, and that he’ll be back to his usual lock-down self back in the Friendly Confines, where he’s only surrendered 2 runs in more than 14 innings of work this season.

Tuesday at 7:05pm CT – Adam Wainwright vs. Jeff Samardzija

The last time the Cubs saw Wainwright, they tattooed him for 8 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks over 3 innings.  I would be ecstatic if he could cough up another such performance tomorrow evening.  If he wasn’t a Cardinal, I’d have sympathy for him and his struggles returning from Tommy John surgery last year.  But he is, so I don’t.  He’s facing off against the converted pirate reliever, who has something to prove again after his last couple outings.  So far this season he looked great against the Nationals, sketchy against the Cardinals, and downright awful against the Marlins.  Considering the weakness of our relief pitching, if the Shark can’t go deeper into games with more success, he might eventually find himself back in the bullpen.

Wednesday at 1:20pm CT – Lance Lynn vs. Chris Volstad

Lance Lynn is another one of those infuriating, St. Louis-patented, come-out-of-nowhere surprises.  It was supposed to be a good thing that Chris Carpenter started the season on the DL.  Instead, Lynn pops out of the bullpen to become one of the league’s most dominant starters.  So far this season, he has surrendered 3 runs on 10 hits, or the equivalent of one or two innings of work for Volstad.  I expect this one to be ugly.  Like break-up-the-no-hitter-in-the-5th ugly.  It’s almost a mortal lock that Volstad will still be looking for his first win since last July 10 when he makes his next start.

Notes from the Enemy

Courtesy of Matt Philip from Fungoes

Jaime Garcia vs. Matt Garza

The lone lefty in the rotation, Garcia has started 2012 impressively, with a 2.83 FIP. His strikeout rate is a bit down (5.09 in 2012, 7.03 career) as is his groundball rate (45.6%, 54.5% career). The key has been that none of his flyballs have left the park, something he’ll have to be concerned about in Wrigley, where he hasn’t been as sharp (.350 OBPA).

Adam Wainwright vs. Jeff Samardzija

Although the Cubs pounded Adam Wainwright on opening day at Busch Stadium and he now has an unseemly 9.88 ERA in his first three starts of 2012, he has an expected Fielding-Independent Pitching of 3.18, lower than his career number. That’s in large part because he has been unlucky with fly balls (35.7% HR/FB; career: 8.1%) and runners left on base (46.7% LOB; career: 76.6%).

Lance Lynn vs. Chris Volstad

Lynn has been the team’s most pleasant surprise. Filling in for Chris Carpenter, the right-hander is second in the rotation with a 4.25 K/BB and leads in line-drive rate with a meager 13%.

Who’s hot

Shortstop Rafael Fucal has a .500 OBP over his last seven games.

What to watch for

Carlos Beltran enjoys the friendly confines of Wrigley, bashing Cub pitching over the years with a .488 OBP and .743 SLG. He has hit nine home runs in 122 plate appearances.

Odds and ends

The Cardinals will be without Lance Berkman, who went on the DL (backdated to Thursday, April 19). But Skip Schumaker has returned from his disabling.

  • Doc Raker

    I can gaurantee that the Blackhawk game will be better than the Cubs game regardless of who wins the Hawks game, 5 OT’s in a row, jeez.

    • BLPCB

      And the Hawks season is over. Now everyone can turn their attention to the Bulls, keeping them busy until June. Then they’ll have to find something to keep them busy until football season returns.

      • Doc Raker

        I was wrong, mark it down 4/23/2012, Cubs Win in a thriller and Hawks end their season with a 4-0 dud.

  • Doc Raker

    I can gaurantee that the Blackhawk game will be better than the Cubs game regardless of who wins the Hawks game, 5 OT’s in a row, jeez.

    • AC0000000

      And the Hawks season is over. Now everyone can turn their attention to the Bulls, keeping them busy until June. Then they’ll have to find something to keep them busy until football season returns.

      • Doc Raker

        I was wrong, mark it down 4/23/2012, Cubs Win in a thriller and Hawks end their season with a 4-0 dud.

  • I love this guy! 
     “[getting piss pounded]’s in large part because [Wainwright] has been unlucky with fly balls (35.7% HR/FB; career: 8.1%) and runners left on base (46.7% LOB; career: 76.6%).” 

    • Jedi

      I’m with you – I hope he keeps coming back with this garbage all year long.  It’s hilarious.  Terribly unlucky when guys deposit balls in the seats – you’d think Canseco was out there bouncing fly balls off his head multiple times a game.

      • Norm Bothwell

        Question: Was Castro unlucky when he crushed two balls last week that were held in because of the wind at Wrigley?

      • Jedi

        Right, you don’t pick fights…of course not.

      • Norm Bothwell

        lol…real fight pickin question that was!

      • Jedi

        The only correlation between Castro’s flyouts and Wainwright’s ‘unluckiness’ is a the fight you want to pick.  Castro’s flyouts are unlucky because the wind is blowing in, thus Wainwright’s HR rate is unlucky…that’s the argument you’ll be pimping.  I’ll not be agreeing – if you watched Wainwright you’d see a lot of hanging breaking balls and fastballs catching the heart of the plate…that’s sucky, not unlucky.

        One-line Norm says a lot of apparently innocuous things to stir up a fuss.  I’m not sure I prefer him to verbose Norm anymore.

        Question: If your original question was so sincere and investigative, why not relate it to the topic at hand? Wainwright’s pitching.

      • Norm Bothwell

        I was just wondering if you thought there was any possibility of ‘luck’ being involved in HR hitting.

        You ever watch the Home Run Derby? What do they throw, 70mph right down the middle? Do they hit HR’s every single time? 75% of the time? Do some hit ZERO HR’s on those pitches?

        Even if what you say is true, and I don’t know because I don’t have the
        luxury of watching every pitch hrown by Wainwright (Do you see every pitch of every pitcher in every at bat? Or just all of Wainwright’s pitches?), even if Wainwright is hanging breaking balls, even if he is the suckiest pitcher in the league, he will not give up HR’s on 35% of the fly balls that are hit.

      • Jedi

        No one said anything about zero possibility of ‘luck’ – you magically inferred that somehow.  No one said Wainwright’s HR rate will stay at 35% (it’s good to see straw man Norm visiting us again – of course making stuff up isn’t trying to start a fight either).  I’m saying Wainwright has pitched horribly and that’s why his rate is at 35%.

        Apparently, you’re making the argument that it’s statistically impossible to pitch that badly over a three game stretch?  That no matter how badly he pitched, he’s ALSO been very unlucky.  Is that your point?

        Who cares?  When you’re sitting on a 9.88 ERA you have to pitch a whole lot better before you can start griping about ‘luck’ being your downfall.  If he was sporting something like a 4.50 or even 5.00 ERA, it might be worth it to try and quantify his unluckiness.  But when you suck as bad as 2012 Adam Wainwright, unluckiness should be the least of your worries.  Get that fastball on the black, and get that curve to bite…then talk about the wind-aided HRs.

      • Norm Bothwell

        “I’m saying Wainwright has pitched horribly and that’s why his rate is at 35%.”

        And he’s saying that he can pitch exactly as “horribly” as he’s been pitching and that percentage will go down.

      • Jedi

        He said that Wainwright’s ‘unseemly’ numbers are due ‘in large part’ to his bad luck.

        Now you’re making stuff up for him, too.

      • Jedi

        In other words – he doesn’t think Wainwright has pitched horribly. He thinks his horribly numbers are largely the result of bad luck.

      • Jedi

        By the way, HR derby is a horrible example for a host of reasons.  But I’ll play along; in the last two HR derbies, hitters have combined to hit just over 40% of the pitches they saw out of the park.  Could you find a lot STL fans who would say that Wainwright has essentially been a HR derby pitcher for the first three games of 2012?  I bet you could.  Perhaps he’s actually been LUCKY so far!

  • I love this guy! 
     “[getting piss pounded]’s in large part because [Wainwright] has been unlucky with fly balls (35.7% HR/FB; career: 8.1%) and runners left on base (46.7% LOB; career: 76.6%).” 

    • Jedi

      I’m with you – I hope he keeps coming back with this garbage all year long.  It’s hilarious.  Terribly unlucky when guys deposit balls in the seats – you’d think Canseco was out there bouncing fly balls off his head multiple times a game.

      • Norm Bothwell

        Question: Was Castro unlucky when he crushed two balls last week that were held in because of the wind at Wrigley?

      • Jedi

        Right, you don’t pick fights…of course not.

      • Norm Bothwell

        lol…real fight pickin question that was!

      • Jedi

        The only correlation between Castro’s flyouts and Wainwright’s ‘unluckiness’ is a the fight you want to pick.  Castro’s flyouts are unlucky because the wind is blowing in, thus Wainwright’s HR rate is unlucky…that’s the argument you’ll be pimping.  I’ll not be agreeing – if you watched Wainwright you’d see a lot of hanging breaking balls and fastballs catching the heart of the plate…that’s sucky, not unlucky.

        One-line Norm says a lot of apparently innocuous things to stir up a fuss.  I’m not sure I prefer him to verbose Norm anymore.

        Question: If your original question was so sincere and investigative, why not relate it to the topic at hand? Wainwright’s pitching.

      • Norm Bothwell

        I was just wondering if you thought there was any possibility of ‘luck’ being involved in HR hitting.

        You ever watch the Home Run Derby? What do they throw, 70mph right down the middle? Do they hit HR’s every single time? 75% of the time? Do some hit ZERO HR’s on those pitches?

        Even if what you say is true, and I don’t know because I don’t have the
        luxury of watching every pitch hrown by Wainwright (Do you see every pitch of every pitcher in every at bat? Or just all of Wainwright’s pitches?), even if Wainwright is hanging breaking balls, even if he is the suckiest pitcher in the league, he will not give up HR’s on 35% of the fly balls that are hit.

      • Jedi

        No one said anything about zero possibility of ‘luck’ – you magically inferred that somehow.  No one said Wainwright’s HR rate will stay at 35% (it’s good to see straw man Norm visiting us again – of course making stuff up isn’t trying to start a fight either).  I’m saying Wainwright has pitched horribly and that’s why his rate is at 35%.

        Apparently, you’re making the argument that it’s statistically impossible to pitch that badly over a three game stretch?  That no matter how badly he pitched, he’s ALSO been very unlucky.  Is that your point?

        Who cares?  When you’re sitting on a 9.88 ERA you have to pitch a whole lot better before you can start griping about ‘luck’ being your downfall.  If he was sporting something like a 4.50 or even 5.00 ERA, it might be worth it to try and quantify his unluckiness.  But when you suck as bad as 2012 Adam Wainwright, unluckiness should be the least of your worries.  Get that fastball on the black, and get that curve to bite…then talk about the wind-aided HRs.

      • Norm Bothwell

        “I’m saying Wainwright has pitched horribly and that’s why his rate is at 35%.”

        And he’s saying that he can pitch exactly as horribly as he’s been pitching and that percentage will go down.

      • Jedi

        He said that Wainwright’s ‘unseemly’ numbers are due ‘in large part’ to his bad luck.

        Now you’re making stuff up for him, too.

      • Jedi

        In other words – he doesn’t think Wainwright has pitched horribly. He thinks his horribly numbers are largely the result of bad luck.

      • Jedi

        By the way, HR derby is a horrible example for a host of reasons.  But I’ll play along; in the last two HR derbies, hitters have combined to hit just over 40% of the pitches they saw out of the park.  Could you find a lot STL fans who would say that Wainwright has essentially been a HR derby pitcher for the first three games of 2012?  I bet you could.  Perhaps he’s actually been LUCKY so far!

  • Spin Zone In Wrigleyville

    Question: Who said Castro couldn’t hit in the 3 hole because of his small sample size splits last year between lead off and the 3 hole? Raise your hands, cmon admit it, you know who you are.

    • RichBeckman

      I am one who, on several occasions last season, complained that Quade was too persistent on batting Castro third when his numbers from that spot were poor.  I believe I posted once early this season that Sveum was doing the same thing.

      Just to be picky, I do not believe I ever said that Castro “couldn’t hit” batting third, but only pointed out that he had not yet “hit” batting third and that he seemed to not be comfortable with it.

      Clearly, Castro has gotten over whatever was holding him back last year. I am happy to see it.

      I do notice that with all the emphasis on his fielding that his error rate is up and his range is down. Hopefully, just the small sample size or the result of “thinking too much” and will self correct as the season (career) goes on.

    • Jedi

      And I think the two years are different animals – he HAS to hit third this year, there’s just not a better option.  Byrd was decent last year from the 3-hole, until he got his face bashed in, after that he didn’t hit 3rd again.  Then Aramis was moved to the 3-hole and that was still a better solution (at least in my opinion) than Castro hitting 3rd.  I’d still like to see Castro back in the 2-hole eventually – but right now I get the necessity of having him hit 3rd.

  • Spin Zone In Wrigleyville

    Question: Who said Castro couldn’t hit in the 3 hole because of his small sample size splits last year between lead off and the 3 hole? Raise your hands, cmon admit it, you know who you are.

    • RichBeckman

      I am one who, on several occasions last season, complained that Quade was too persistent on batting Castro third when his numbers from that spot were poor.  I believe I posted once early this season that Sveum was doing the same thing.

      Just to be picky, I do not believe I ever said that Castro “couldn’t hit” batting third, but only pointed out that he had not yet “hit” batting third and that he seemed to not be comfortable with it.

      Clearly, Castro has gotten over whatever was holding him back last year. I am happy to see it.

      I do notice that with all the emphasis on his fielding that his error rate is up and his range is down. Hopefully, just the small sample size or the result of “thinking too much” and will self correct as the season (career) goes on.

    • Jedi

      And I think the two years are different animals – he HAS to hit third this year, there’s just not a better option.  Byrd was decent last year from the 3-hole, until he got his face bashed in, after that he didn’t hit 3rd again.  Then Aramis was moved to the 3-hole and that was still a better solution (at least in my opinion) than Castro hitting 3rd.  I’d still like to see Castro back in the 2-hole eventually – but right now I get the necessity of having him hit 3rd.

  • Spin Zone In Wrigleyville

    “Considering the weakness of our relief pitching, if the Shark can’t go deeper into games with more success, he might eventually find himself back in the bullpen.” Jeremiah, this is to suggest we have other starting pitchers to replace Smarja, but alas we don’t. Long season just beginning, long season.

    • Jeremiah Johnson

      I know he only gave us 5 innings of sketchy work, but if he can do it again, or improve on his last performance, I’d take Wells over any of our back three starters.  And since Samardzija has thrived in the bullpen in the past, I could see moving him back there if our current relievers can’t get it together AND he can’t pitch better than he has the last two starts.  Two big ifs, but I could see it happening.

      • Doc Raker

        Yes, I could see that happening. Smarja deserves a shot to start but we do know he can be a very good bullpen man.

    • Buddy

      The bullpen is the proper place for the Shark, in my humble opinion. 

  • Spin Zone In Wrigleyville

    “Considering the weakness of our relief pitching, if the Shark can’t go deeper into games with more success, he might eventually find himself back in the bullpen.” Jeremiah, this is to suggest we have other starting pitchers to replace Smarja, but alas we don’t. Long season just beginning, long season.

    • Jeremiah Johnson

      I know he only gave us 5 innings of sketchy work, but if he can do it again, or improve on his last performance, I’d take Wells over any of our back three starters.  And since Samardzija has thrived in the bullpen in the past, I could see moving him back there if our current relievers can’t get it together AND he can’t pitch better than he has the last two starts.  Two big ifs, but I could see it happening.

      • Doc Raker

        Yes, I could see that happening. Smarja deserves a shot to start but we do know he can be a very good bullpen man.

    • Buddy

      The bullpen is the proper place for the Shark, in my humble opinion. 

  • Buddy

    Did Lance Berkman get fat and I missed it? 

  • Buddy

    Did Lance Berkman get fat and I missed it? 

  • Buddy

    I knew about Puma, but not Elvis. Thanks for the info!

    • Seymour Butts

      You were unaware Elvis got fat?

  • Buddy

    I knew about Puma, but not Elvis. Thanks for the info!

    • Seymour Butts

      You were unaware Elvis got fat?

  • Maaaaaather!

  • Maaaaaather!

  • Norm Bothwell

    “In other words – he doesn’t think Wainwright has pitched horribly. He
    thinks his horribly numbers are largely the result of bad luck.”

    I agree with him.
    And if I was a Cardinals fan, I would not be concerned at all about Wainwright going forward. He appears to be in line with his pre-injury performance…minus the homers and the timing of those homers.

    • Jedi

      You could’ve just started with your second paragraph…no need to lie to make an argument, or antagonize for a fight.

      By the way Wainwright’s secondary stuff was really moving last night, I don’t suppose that had anything to do with his good outing; he was just lucky, right?

      • Norm Bothwell

        Nope, he just wasn’t unlucky.

      • Jedi

        Lucky that his stuff was moving?  Because it hadn’t in 3 outings before this.

      • Norm Bothwell

        Oh, I’m sure he was getting those 9K’s per 9 innings with non-moving pitches. You’re right.

      • Jedi

        Right – strikeout pitchers never give up home runs.

  • Norm Bothwell

    “In other words – he doesn’t think Wainwright has pitched horribly. He
    thinks his horribly numbers are largely the result of bad luck.”

    I agree with him.
    And if I was a Cardinals fan, I would not be concerned at all about Wainwright going forward. He appears to be in line with his pre-injury performance…minus the homers and the timing of those homers.

    • Jedi

      You could’ve just started with your second paragraph…no need to lie to make an argument, or antagonize for a fight.

      By the way Wainwright’s secondary stuff was really moving last night, I don’t suppose that had anything to do with his good outing; he was just lucky, right?

      • Norm Bothwell

        Nope, he just wasn’t unlucky.

      • Jedi

        Lucky that his stuff was moving?  Because it hadn’t in 3 outings before this.

      • Norm Bothwell

        Oh, I’m sure he was getting those 9K’s per 9 innings with non-moving pitches. You’re right.

      • Jedi

        Right – strikeout pitchers never give up home runs.