Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Sauna Weekend
2005-06-13 08:21
by Derek Smart

I'll be brief, as my viewing was limited by circumstance, and my office is currently sans AC, which if you've followed Chicago weather of late, is likely to cause my fingernails to melt and thereby permanently adhere my fingers to the keyboard. On to the liquid-lead-fest!

  • I have to apologize for last night, as I think I might have had something to do with it. See, in one of my fantasy leagues, I own both Bronson Arroyo and Wade Miller. I was trying to decide what to do with them going into the weekend against our boys, and in pondering I realized, particularly with my rotten luck thus far, that I'd have to play them.

    Had they been benched, I would have expected an excellent game from them, as most of the time when I've let a pitcher sit fallow they've responded with a lights-out performance. So I took it upon myself to take one for the team and hope these men further ruined my already appalling team ERA, which they did beautifully.

    Unfortunately, I don't own Tim Wakefield, and had I been thinking ahead, I would have tried to work out a deal with his owner so that I could put the full voodoo whammy on the Red Sox pitching staff. I was slow on the draw, and for that my friends, I am deeply sorry.

  • However, even if I were his owner, I would have had a bad feeling about the Cubs facing Tim Wakefield, and every last bit of what I thought would go wrong did last night, with a little extra on the pitching end for kicks.

    The Cubs are a team that is particularly ill-suited to perform well against a knuckleballer, as the lineup is not only chock full of hitters whose first real love was a good hard fastball, it is a singularly impatient group of batsmen, most of whom couldn't wait back on a pitch if their bat were tied to an anvil.

    This is less a criticism than a simple fact, as the club's ability to jump on bad pitches early and send a good heater over the wall can come in awfully handy at times. Granted, I'd love to see them work more counts against a guy like Wakefield (well, against most guys, really), but it just isn't in their nature, and that fault just means that when these type of men come to the bump the Cubs are at a distinct disadvantage. Luckily, the league isn't exactly boiling over with good knuckle-heads.

  • While it didn't necessarily seem so at the time, I think the Cubs caught a break of sorts when Carlos Zambrano couldn't keep going because of a sprained toe in the sixth inning of Saturday's game. After five frames he'd thrown 98 pitches, and while the potential of him throwing in the 1-teens was pretty high if he got through another set, his potential pitch total wasn't the root of my concern.

    My worries came because the first two innings were frames in which Z was forced to throw 32 and 27 pitches respectively - a huge early load, and most of it under duress. Add in that it was a brutally hot day, and the potential for Zambrano to use enough energy to impact his next start, strong as he might be, was higher than I'd like.

    Yes, Carlos had settled down, and yes, he was throwing much better since those first two frames, but after such a rough start, simply holding the Red Sox down for the next three innings until the bullpen could get involved was enough work for one day, and to my mind, it was better for him to save his strength for his next time out and let the relief corps that's been so solid of late do their jobs.

It's another of those pitch and pray nights for the Cubs, as John Koronka lines up against that crazy, mixed-up former Cub farmhand, Dontrelle Willis. The good news is, the Marlins offense has been atrocious of late. The bad news is, despite showing recent signs of fatigue - giving up 9 of his 20 earned runs and 27 of his 75 hits over his last three starts - Willis is still very capable of making the Cubs offense look like it belongs in Florida.

2005-06-13 10:05:27
1.   rynox
I always thought Willis was overrated, but this year he's really been proving me wrong. He does throw a lot of strikes and against the Cubs, that could be detrimental to him.

Lets just hope Koronka can keep Cabrera and Encarcion quiet.

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