Behind Enemy Lines: Chicago Cubs

This blog post comes courtesy of George Cotugno of Born on Third, a blog about the Chicago Cubs. You can follow him on Twitter at @BornOnThirdCubs

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First off I want to thank Alex for allowing me to jump on his blog to give the great Pirates fans a primer for the Cubs series that begins tomorrow. Secondly I want to apologize ahead of time for what you may see this weekend as it might not be pretty, the Cubs have lost 9 straight and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Hope you enjoy this preview from this Cubs bloggers perspective.

Cubs Pitchers

Game 1Ryan Dempster
If one guy on the Cubs roster sums up the 2012 season its Ryan Dempster. Dempster has been nothing short of brilliant for the Cubs, he boasts a 2.28 ERA which is good for 12th in the Majors, however Dempster’s record sits at 0-2. Dempster has done his best work this season on the road which bodes well for Friday Night, he is 0-0 (of course) with a 1.80 ERA in three starts away from the Friendly Confines. That’s where the good news ends, why you ask, because Ryan Dempster hates seeing the Pirates, really hates seeing them at PNC Park. In 49 appearances in his career against Pittsburgh (24 starts) Dempster is 8-12 with a 5.57 ERA, what’s worse is that the Pirates are hitting at a .293 career clip against Dempster. I mentioned Dempster despising PNC Park, although nice to look at, Dempster wants nothing to do with it as he is 3-5 with a 5.25 ERA in 21 career appearances (8 starts).

Game 2Paul Maholm
A familiar face will greet the Pittsburgh lineup on Saturday Night as Paul Maholm returns to the mound in a City where he spent the first 7 years of his career pitching. Maholm was a reliable starter for the Pirates and I expect him to get a nice ovation when he is announced from the PNC faithful. Maholm has been much better at Wrigley this year than he has on the road. Maholm is 1-1 with a 6.06 ERA in three road starts so far this year. But, can this game really be considered a “road” start for this former Pirate? Maholm will be making his 97th start at PNC Park, by far the most familiar place to pitch for Maholm. In his career, Maholm is 35-31 with a 3.80 ERA in 96 starts at PNC Park.

Game 3Matt Garza
Consider this the Jekyll and Hyde member of the Cubs pitching staff. Garza can have no hit stuff one night, and the next night he has trouble location and he gets lit up. The majority of the “off” nights are on the road where Garza has looked uncomfortable and his numbers prove that. In four road starts this season Garza is 1-2 with a horrific 6.30 ERA, a major reason for that is the 11 walks in 20 innings that he has surrendered. Here is the good news for Garza, he likes seeing Pirates across the opponents jersey. In two career starts Garza is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA, he has been knocked around a little as he has given up 16 hits in 14 innings but he has only issued two walks over those 14 innings while striking out 19. Garza has only had one start at PNC in his career and it was stellar as he earned the win going seven innings allowing no runs on four hits, while walking two and striking out seven.

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

HOT – Hang on, let me find it, there has to be someone…. I’ll have to go with David DeJesus, the Cubs lead-off hitter. Yes, the Cubs lead-off hitter is hot, but the Cubs can’t score any runs, go figure. Over the last seven days DeJesus is hitting .333 (8-24) with two doubles, a walk, an RBI and a run scored. DeJesus is doing his job by getting on base, but that’s where he is usually left, over the last seven days he has a .385 OBP, and an OPS of .801

NOT –Okay, this is a much easier one… The whole team, no that’s too broad, need to narrow it down. I’ll go with Bryan LaHair. LaHair was the pleasant surprise early as he was given the starting first base job out of Spring training and delivered big time in April. Not so much lately as he is 1-for-17 over the last seven days. He has nine strike outs in those 17 at bats, so clearly the wheels have fallen off for Bryan during this funk.

Prediction

I want to be positive, I really do, but this team just hasn’t given me a reason to be positive for a while, and I honestly don’t see an end to this crap anytime soon. My prediction for the series is the Cubs lose two out of three to the Pirates with the lone win coming on Saturday behind a strong start from Paul Maholm.

Thanks again Alex, and thank for reading, Go Cubs!
– George (Born on Third)

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