Series Preview: Iowa Cubs of Chicago (42-60) at Milwaukee Brewers (54-49)

Team Matchups

NL ranks in parens

Cubs Brewers
wOBA .316 (7th) .322 (6th)
UBR -11.6 (16th) -3.6 (13th)
UZR -17.7 (13th) 4.7 (5th)
SP FIP 4.07 (10th) 3.71 (7th)
RP FIP 4.05 (14th) 3.65 (5th)

It’s almost comical how bad the Cubs are at baserunning. There’s almost a win’s difference separating them from the Brewers, who are the 4th worst in the NL.

I’m surprised to see the Brewers grading out so well in defense. DRS has them at -5, but given the ZOMG CAN THE BREWERS WIN WITHOUT DEFENSE articles I feel like I’ve been seeing for the past month or so I would have expected it to be as awful as the Cubs.

Not surprisingly Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are leading the team in wOBA (.430 and .402, respectively). Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and Nyjer Morgan are all chipping in to help cancel out the offensive black hole on the left side of their infield.

Probable Pitchers

Tuesday: Ryan Dempster, RHP (5.00, 3.70, 3.37, 3.57) vs Chris Narveson, LHP (4.45, 3.42, 3.56, 4.14), 7:10 PM CT

There was spirited debate in the comments yesterday (mostly originating from Mercurial Outfielder) about referring to luck in regards to Dempster’s season so far. So in deference to MO, we’ll just say that he’s just had shitty variance. He was hammered in his last start, lasting only three innings. In defense of MO, he is being hit slightly harder (20.1 % LD rate), and he’s seen a small drop in his ground ball rate. I’m fine with chalking it up to sequenceing and normal age based decline, and not some sudden drop off a cliff. It is nice to see that, relative to his awful start to the season, his HR rate has already normalized to right around his previous two years’ average.

Narveson is quietly having a nice year. He’s another pitcher in my Wandy Rodriguez Hall of Fame of pitchers who gave me a bad first impression that I always believe suck, no matter what the stats say. I’m blanking on who else is in this HOF even though I’ve mentioned it at least one or two other times in these previews (laughing).

Wednesday: Carlos Zambrano, RHP (4.70, 4.03, 4.21, 3.75) vs Zack Greinke, RHP (4.84, 3.03, 2.17, 2.82), 7:10 PM CT

Thanks to the All-Star break it feels like months ago when Z was on the DL. I couldn’t believe it when I checked his game log and saw that he’s only made two starts since being reinstated. Earlier in the season I was even more worried about the drop in his GB rate than the drop in his strikeout rate. While still lower than it should be, his GB rate has normalized somewhat, and now we just have his crummy strikeout rate to worry about. On the other hand, his walk rate his season is as low as it ever was in his prime.

I haven’t been following Greinke all that closely this year, so I’m surprised to see his ERA so high, especially considering his peripheral stats. He’s giving up even more line drives than Dempster (22%) and on top of that he’s given up a lot of HRs. Of course, the batters have to make contact with it first. He’s striking out 11+ per nine, and making players earn their bases with a 1.85 BB/9.

Thursday: Randy Wells, RHP (6.17, 5.23, 4.27, 4.04) vs Shaun Marcum, RHP (3.32, 3.66, 3.56, 3.41), 1:10 PM CT

Who knows what’s up with Wells? Last I heard his fastball was still down 3-4 MPH from last season, and I’m guessing his other pitches are suffering too. I’m waiting for there to be yet more injury news. After he put up another stinker of a start a few weeks back I was surprised at the amount of fan hate against Wells. He had a great rookie year and his peripherals were right in line with those numbers in his sophomore season, while racking up 194.1 innings. He’s been pants this year, not only with the velocity issues but also the probably correlated enormous jump in his walk rate.

Marcum is an extreme fly ball pitcher, so it’s no surprise that he has a low BABIP, but a .253 BABIP is pretty crazy. He’s seen a bump in his strikeout rate since moving to the NL, not surprisingly, but there hasn’t been much improvement on his career BB numbers after the move, which is somewhat surprising. He gives up a HR in almost every start, so I’ll be surprised if the Cubs go yard on him (dying laughing)


Two out of three to the Cubs’s little brothers.


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We're gonna make it.