Series Preview: Iowa Cubs (24-36) at Philadelphia Phillies (37-25)

It’s too bad the Cubs didn’t lose last night, because this series could have easily pushed the losing streak to thirteen. Of course, despite that we’ll probably see the Cubs win the series by beating both Halladay and Lee and suddenly think they’re contenders, trading Brett Jackson and Trey Mcnutt in a three-team deal to acquire Veterans Who Know How To Win™ Joe Saunders and Edwin Jackson to shore up the rotation.

Team Overviews

Team stats and NL ranks

Cubs Phillies
wOBA .318 (5th) .309 (10th)
UBR -6.9 (16th) -0.5 (9th)
UZR -11.8 (14th) -7.3 (12th)
SP FIP 4.10 (13th) 2.77 (1st)
RP FIP 4.15 (16th) 3.76 (10th)

These numbers surprise me a bit. Everyone knows about Philly’s starting pitching surplus (to put it mildly) but I would have expected the rest of their numbers to be much better, especially the offense. They’re definitely missing Jayson Werth and Chase Utley (who is sort-of back now), but other lineup mainstays like Ryan Howard (.343 wOBA) and Jimmy Rollins (.325 wOBA) aren’t doing that well themselves. When Shane Victorino is leading your team in hitting after two months your offense has problems.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday: Randy Wells, RHP (5.74, 5.17, 3.99, 3.89) vs Kyle Kendrick, RHP (3.78, 4.74, 5.07, 4.52), 6:05 PM CT, WGN

I was surprised to see Wells’s FIP number so high, but since I’ve missed all of his starts this year all I remember about his season is that he’s been striking out a lot of batters. That’s nice for your FIP, but giving up three HRs in three starts is not.

Kendrick is not a great pitcher by any means, but given my imperfect memory and the trashing he gets from the Phillies bloggers I follow on twitter I thought he was much closer to being a replacement level pitcher than he is. He’s a decent groundball pitcher who doesn’t strike anyone out. He’s had some luck with BABIP this year but given the number of grounders he gives up that should change.

Friday: Carlos Zambrano, RHP (3.98, 3.57, 4.11, 3.56) vs Roy Halladay, RHP (2.56, 2.21, 2.38, 2.69), 6:05 PM CT, CSN

I’m guessing that Z is going to lose this game 1-0 and somehow be blamed for it. This should be a quick game.

Saturday: Matt Garza, RHP (4.07,  2.20, 2.57, 3.68) vs Cliff Lee, LHP (3.62, 2.59, 2.50, 2.69), 3:10 PM CT, FOX

Garza was not particularly sharp in his return from the disabled list, striking out only three while walking three and giving up a home run in four innings to the Reds. However, he’s still continuing his odd trend of generating tons of groundballs. Maybe Riggins is good for something after all?

Lee has pitched incredibly well this season, and like Garza his ERA-FIP difference is largely due to a large BABIP. He’s been walking a few more batters than usual this year but given the huge jump in his strikeout rate it’s nothing for the Phillies to be concerned about.

Sunday: Doug Davis, RHP (6.38, 3.48, 4.22, 4.22) vs Roy Oswalt, RHP (3.05, 3.42, 3.86, 3.27), 12:35 PM CT, WGN

I’m surprised to see Davis’s FIP so low. It’s mostly due to the fact that all the runs that score from the mountian of walks he issues are off of base hits (.370 BABIP) as opposed to home runs. The Cubs are probably stuck with Davis as the fifth starter at this point, as who the hell else is going to pitch any better at this point?

Oswalt has seen a HUGE drop in his strikeout rate this season. To his credit he has gotten a lot more groundballs and limited the number of fly balls that leave the park, but that has to be a big cause for concern. In his last five starts he hasn’t struck out more than three batters. The Cubs should be good for whatever ails him in that department.


Phils take three of four


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