Series Preview: Reigning Champs (44-34) vs Iowa Cubs of Chicago (32-46)

I knew that today’s first game is a makeup game, but I was wondering how that worked out. The “typical” schedule, at least as I have always assumed it, was more or less that each team played a home and away series against the teams not in their division over the course of the season. The rest are filled in by the interleague matchups and playing your own division. But I guess this whole interleague thing throws a wrench in all that. Some NL teams have to play each other during big interleague periods. If I were less lazy I’d look and see how often it is the Cubs who end up with the extra game. My lying brain tells me that it’s more often than it should be.

Team Stats

As always, overall team stats and NL ranks:

Giants Cubs
wOBA .292 (15th) .320 (6th)
UBR 3.4 (3rd) -8.9 (16th)
UZR 5.4 (4th) -15.4 (15th)
SP FIP 3.14 (2nd) 4.17 (14th)
RP FIP 2.94 (3rd) 4.07 (14th)

Obviously, pitching is the Giants trump suit and they have seven pitchers with FIP below three, including starters Madison Bumgarner, Timmay, and the out-of-nowhere-revitalized Ryan Vogelsong. Offensively, well, there are problems. No batters have double-digit wRAA, and Miguel Tejada has been an absoulte black hole of suck in their lineup. Oddly enough their lineup has fewer truly awful hitting performances on it other than Tejada, just a bunch of bad ones. I was expecting to see something like we saw with the Brewers and the White Sox, where multiple hitters are absolutely killing the lineup.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: Ryan Vogelsong, RHP (1.86, 2.88, 3.39, 4.44) vs Doug Davis, LHP (5.01, 3.48, 4.47, 4.05), 1:20 PM CT (game one)

Ryan Vogelsong – Ryan Dempster 2.0? Since coming to the Giants he’s shaved a walk and a half per nine off his career rate, upped his strikeouts, and upped his ground balls. Who knew? Apparently not the Pirates. Those numbers won’t last and he’s 33, so it’s not like he’s suddenly hitting his peak or something. Dempster had his breakout season when he was thirty, but sample size of one and all that.

I’m flooed that Davis has a decent xFIP of 4.47 when he has a 5.01 BB.9 rate. WTF?

Tuesday: Barry Zito, LHP (6.23, 4.87, 5.28, 4.09) vs Rodrigo Lopez, RHP (6.59, 5.80, 4.71, 4.95), 7:05 PM CT (game two)

If you ignore Vogelsong’s numbers from this season and just look at these guys projections, how laughable is it that the best pitcher in a doubleheader involving these two supposedly pitching-heavy teams is Doug Davis? I’d laugh that the Cubs are resorting to throwing Davis and Lopez in a doubleheader, but when they’re matched up with The Decaying Corpse of Barry Zito’s Career and a failed top prospect with the career 5.11 ERA / 4.53 FIP it doesn’t look as bad. Random laugh: Zito’s twitter handle is BakedZito

Wednesday: Tim Lincecum, RHP (3.16, 2.83, 2.88, 2.52) vs Ryan Dempster, RHP (5.31, 4.15, 3.39, 3.70), 7:05 PM CT

What else is there to say about Lincecum that hasn’t been said? We’ll watch an excellently pitched game tomorrow night.

Demp was knocked around by the Royals in his last start and gave up a ton of line drives and fly balls. Luckily it was the Royals who were trying to out-Cub the Cubs, and they only picked up four runs (some helped by the defense behind Demp).

Thursday: Derrek Lee, RHP (3.22, 3.06, 3.58, 3.33) vs Carlos Zambrano, RHP (4.38, 3.83, 4.14, 3.65), 1:20 PM CT

Glancing at Cain’s numbers, I was surprised to see that he has a career .266 BABIP and wondered how the heck that was sustainable. But it’s easily explained when you look at his career GB/FB rates. He is an extreme flyball pitcher who is helped by an extreme pitchers’ park. His career HR/FB rate is 6.9% but it’s not just Pac Bell or whatever the heck they’re calling that park now. His home HR/FB is 6.7% and his road is 7.1%

Z put together another strong outing in his last start, going seven innings and surrendering two runs. He only struck out two batters, but I’m encouraged by the number of ground balls he managed to generate in his recent starts.

Prediction

Cubs and Giants split this series. Given how the two teams match up in general I would guess that there wouldn’t be more than 20 runs scored between them, but anything can happen in the double-header today. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Zito and Lopez each take no-hitters into the 8th inning. Or both exit by the 5th with a score of 8-7 (dying laughing)


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