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by Derek Smart
What a dog.
I can't say I didn't expect exactly the sort of result we saw last night, but that doesn't make it any more bearable. When the Cubs endure two consecutive blowouts, it tends to put me on edge, which is never good when you're working so closely with bullets:
Based on his work last night, and really, for the entire time he's been with the club, I'm going to say that barring major disaster (something one should never discount with this team), we've seen the last of John Koronka this season. Here's how it goes over the next week:
It's Mitre and Maddux for the next two games, with a day off on Thursday. This allows the Cubs to skip Koronka's spot that would ordinarily come up during the Yankee series, and throw Mitre there instead. Maddux can then throw on his normal rest on Monday in Milwaukee before a fifth pitcher is needed again.
Jerome Williams has been throwing very well in Iowa (18.1 IP, 18 H, 3 BB, 13 K, 2.95 ERA in three starts). His last start was on the 10th, and he's scheduled to throw again on Wednesday, which would put him in a good position to throw for the Cubs on the 20th or 21st. My guess is, the Cubs would keep Maddux on his normal rest, give Williams the extra day, and send him to the bump next Tuesday night in Milwaukee. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
His last two outings, Joe Borowski has been getting results more indicative of what I've been seeing thus far. As I've said a couple of times, his stuff just looks über-hittable, and what I'd been witnessing when getting the chance to see him throw was far different from what his statline implied.
I don't know if the film has finally made the rounds, or if his luck's just run out, but if he doesn't find that old snap on his slider, he's going to be good and done very quickly. Much as I wish him the best, and goodness knows I root like crazy for the guy, his obvious struggles make me that much happier that Ryan Dempster has taken so well to closing out games.
One of the extra rough things about facing a tough lefty like Dontrelle Willis at this particular point in the Cubs's season, was having to sit two of the clubs hottest hitters in the Todds, Walker and Hollandsworth.
Since the last game of the Toronto series, Walker has gone 6 for 14 with a double and a triple, while Hollandsworth has been even more productive with his 7 for 14 with three doubles and a homer. With a right-hander on the mound tonight for the Marlins, they'll be around to, hopefully, provide a much needed offensive boost.
I hate carrying twelve pitchers - even with the club's current situation in the rotation I think it's generally a waste of a roster spot that only serves to limit what you can do in critical pinch-hitting situations. The problem, of course, is that there's very little in the way of solid bench bats immediately available in the system.
The guys smokin' the ball in West Tenn need to stay down there to play every day, and the only guy on the Iowa roster I'd like to see come up is Ben Grieve, and truth be told, I like the concept of Grieve considerably more than the reality. Still, if I had to choose between keeping Cliff Bartosh around, who's been supplanted by Will Ohman as the primary LOOGY, and lost the confidence of management besides, as evidenced by his recent appearances - poor ones, at that - in mop-up only situations, I'd go with Ben Ben in a heartbeat.
It's another ugly matchup in what's shaping up to be a series full of such things, with Sergio "Don't Tell Me I Can't Beat Roy Halladay" Mitre against Josh Beckett. The former World Series MVP just got roughed up by Seattle, so I'd expect him to come out of the gate a little testy, which could be good or bad, but the key, as it was last time, is whether Mitre can keep that sinker down. If he does, the Cubs have a shot, and if he doesn't, it's time to hope for a Beckettian meltdown.