Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (10-13) at Arizona Diamondbacks (10-13)

The Cubs basically canceled yesterday’s game because they didn’t like the matchup. No other explanation makes sense to me – the rain had passed the Chicago area after an hour or two, and it didn’t look like there were further huge storms that could delay ther teams’ flights out of town. I think it had a lot more to do with Coleman vs Chacin. So instead of playing 13 games in a row, the Cubs figured they’d be better off getting an off day and moving this one to June 27. It means they’ll play 17 games in a row heading into the all star break, but without the makeup game they were already slated to play 13 in a row anyway, so no huge deal. Oddly enough they originally had an off day on 6/23, a three game series against the Royals, then another off day before the stretch leading up to the ASB. I guess you need that extra time to prepare and decompress when you’re playing such an important opponent (laughing). The Cubs rotation should be in better shape by then (knock on wood) so I think this was the right decision.

Team Overview

Arizona team stats (NL Ranks in Parens)

wOBA: .328 (4th)
UZR: -0.1 (9th)
DRS: -13 (11th)
SP FIP: 4.71 (15th)
SP xFIP: 4.19 (13th)
RP FIP: 4.26 (14th)
RP xFIP: 3.48 (5th)

Batters

Player wOBA ZiPS wOBA
CF Chris Young .311 .341
2B Kelly Johnson .267 .349
RF Justin Upton .366 .379
SS Stephen Drew .387 .345
C Miguel Montero .369 .338
3B Ryan Roberts .438 .328
1B Russell Branyan .356 .377
LF Gerardo Parra .334 .323

Cub killer Willie Bloomquist is on the DL with a hamstring injury. Replacement level third baseman Geoff Blum is also on the DL, and fellow replacement leveler Melvin Mora has a foot injury.

Pitchers

Player FIP ZiPS FIP
RHP Ian Kennedy 3.16 3.88
RHP Daniel Hudson 3.07 3.47
LHP Joe Saunders 5.16 4.60
RHP Barry Enright 5.69 4.85
RHP Armando Galarraga 7.75 5.20
RHP J.J. Putz 2.92 3.43
RHP David Hernandez 4.12 4.81

The Dbacks are still missing Zach Duke, who broke his hand in spring trianing.

Pitching Matchups

ERA, FIP, xFIP, and projected FIP are in parentheses.

Thursday: Ryan Dempster, RHP (7.63, 5.71, 3.69, 3.87) vs Barry Enright, RHP (6.65, 5.69, 4.75, 4.85), 8:40 PM CT

MB took an excellent look at Ryan Dempster the other day, which is much better than anything I could say here. The short version is that there does not appear to be anything wrong with Dempster, he’s just had some awful HR/FB luck.

The Cubs have already faced Enright this season. He went 6 innings and gave up four runs, including a homer to Tyler Colvin. He’s an extreme flyball pitcher and it’s not surprising that he gives up a lot of HRs. Given that whatever they’re calling The BOB these days is a hitters’ park, that’s not a great combination. Lucky for Arizona they’re facing the Cubs, who have failed to hit a HR in any of the games they’ve played at Wrigley when the wind is blowing out.

Friday: Carlos Zambrano, RHP (5.28, 3.62, 3.65, 3.67) vs Armando Galarraga, RHP (6.00, 7.75, 4.47, 5.20), 8:40 PM CT

Z followed up a great start vs the Padres with an awful one vs the Dodgers. However, one silver lining is that in those last two games Z has been generating ground balls at a much more Z-like rate. His season GB% is now in line with his past few seasons, which was a concern of mine. His peripherals are all looking good, he just doesn’t have the ERA to show for it.

Galarraga, on the other hand, has had some awful luck. Perfect game notwithstanding, he doesn’t have great stuff and a 26.7% HR/FB rate just makes it worse. He did manage to beat the Cubs in their last series, giving up four runs in seven innings while striking out five. He’s coming off a three inning, six runs allowed start against the Mets where his defense did not give him much help. See my above note about why his HR/FB rate doesn’t matter that much (laughing).

Saturday: Matt Garza, RHP (4.11, 1.24, 1.93, 3.82) vs Ian Kennedy, RHP (4.02, 3.16, 3.76, 3.88), 7:10 PM CT

Starlin Castro had a rough day behind Garza in his last start, committing three errors in one inning to give the game away to the Rockies. At least those unearned runs brought Garza’s ERA down to a level closer to the incredible peripherals he’s posted so far. He’s been Zambrano-like in his ability to seemingly go to a full count with every batter, but so far he’s exciting to watch.

Kennedy’s a decent pitcher who’s reputation was tarnished by a few bad starts early in his career at the pressure cooker of Yankee Stadium. The luck dragon has helped him out so far as far as BABIP and HR/FB are concerned. I’m taking his projections with a grain of salt though, as the decent numbers he posted last year came with an unsustainable .256 BABIP. Some of that comes from the fact that he’s a fly ball pitcher, but that has to move up.

Sunday: Casey Coleman, RHP (7.43, 5.88, 5.61, 4.97) vs Daniel Hudson, RHP (5.64, 3.07, 3.60, 3.47), 3:10 PM CT

Coleman’s start was pushed back because the Cubs didn’t feel like playing yesterday. I’ll be lazy and just repeat what I said in the last preview. Coleman was hit hard by the Dodgers in his last start, though somehow no balls left the yard. He’s been a little unlucky with balls in play, but so far he’s looked eminently hittable. So much for the Confidence Aura of Mike Quade helping him out.

Hudson was a 2008 draft pick by the White Sox, and he rocketed through their system all the way to the bigs in 2009. He was laughably traded to ARI for Edwin Jackson last season, one of the dumber moves by generally shrewd dealer Kenny Williams. He posted great numbers in 14 starts last year for the two teams, though his 2.45 ERA was largely a product of a .241 BABIP. It looks like he’s yet another flyball pitcher. Maybe I’m wrong about the Dbacks ballpark, but you’d think that these aren’t the kind of pitchers they’d want to stockpile.

Prediction

This could be a fun series. I think they split the series, with the Cubs winning on two of the first three days. I’m bummed the Cubs don’t face Joe Saunders, who is one of my favorite punching bags.


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