The Cubs are guaranteed to end this short roadtrip today at .500 or better. That's a plus. Then, they come home to host Florida for 4 games, and San Fran for 2.
If the Cubs want to pick up any ground on first place over the next 7 games, they're gonna have to start playing some great baseball... because after tonight, St. Louis will get a 4 game set with Washington, who may likely be the worst team in baseball this year. The Cardinals follow that up with a 2 game set vs the Phillies, where they'll face the struggling Cole Hamels and his 7.27 ERA.
Cubs vs Florida: After coming out of the gate on fire, Florida dropped 7 in a row, before winning yesterday. The Cubs are somewhat fortunate that the one starter they will not see is ace Josh Johnson. However, they haven't seen much of the Florida starters before, which draws a little red flag. In recent years, the Cubs have had a tendency to struggle against guys they don't know too well.
Game 1 - Sean Marshall vs Chris Volstad: They haven't seen much of 22 year old Volstad, who's off to a fine 2-0 start with 2.72 ERA. At 6'7", he's very imposing on the mound. Soriano has the most offical at bats vs Volstad, going 0 for 6. The Marlins have hit Marshall pretty well. Uggla is batting .385 in 13 ABs, and Ramirez is batting .400 in 10 ABs, with 1 HR, 3 RBIs, and 2 BBs.
Game 2 - Rich Harden vs Graham Taylor: They've never even seen lefty Graham Taylor before. And, for some reason, when the Cubs have never seen a young lefty before, he usually gives them trouble (maybe there's a scouting issue there). Harden has 10 Ks in 35 ABs vs this line-up... pretty much par for the course. The Marlins are batting .200 vs him.
Game 3 - Ted Lilly vs Anibal Sanchez: Aside from Soriano's 13 ABs, nobody on our roster has really seen much of Sanchez. Soriano likely accumulated those ABs with Washington. The Marlins have put a hurtin' on Lilly. They're batting .367 against him, and Dan Uggla has 2 HRs and 5 RBI in just 5 ABs.
Game 4 - Carlos Zambrano vs Ricky Nolasco: The Cubs get to see their former farm-hand, Nolaso, who's off to a horrendous start with a 6.92 ERA. Only 3 Cubs have any ABs vs Nolasco: Soriano, Miles, and Ramirez. The Marlins are batting a collective .169 vs Big Z.
Cubs vs San Fran: The Giants are currently 9-10, and have scored the least amount of runs in all of baseball (68). However, they're pitching staff has only given up 76 runs, 3rd best in the majors behind Pittsburgh (74), and Kansas City (73). The Cubs will face a young lefty they haven't seen before, and Mr. Cy Young. They're gonna have to play solid fundamental baseball and move runners over to win this set.
Game 1 - Ryan Dempster vs Jonathan Sanchez: Sanchez, like the entire Giants staff, is off to a good start with a 2.60 ERA. And, he's a lefty... and almost nobody on the Cubs has faced him. Again, that's a bad formula for the Cubs. Rich Aurillia (.360 in 25 ABs) and Edgar Renteria (.316 in 19 ABs) have given Dempster trouble in the past... but the rest of the Giants haven't seen too much of him.
Game 2 - Sean Marshall vs Tim Lincecum: Last year's Cy Young award winner has held the Cubs to a collective .194 team batting average. Marshall hasn't faced the Giants a lot, but the team is batting .306 against him.
Wed, Apr 29 @ Arizona 3:40 PM Dempster (1-0) Davis (1-3) Thu, Apr 30 Florida 8:05 PM Marshall (0-1) Volstad (2-0) Fri, May 1 Florida 2:20 PM Harden (2-1) Taylor (0-1) Sat, May 2 Florida 1:05 PM Lilly (2-2) Sanchez (1-2) Sun, May 3 Florida 2:20 PM Zambrano (2-1) Nolasco (1-2) Mon, May 4 San Francisco 8:05 PM Dempster (1-0) Sanchez (1-1) Tue, May 5 San Francisco 2:20 PM Marshall (0-1) Lincecum (1-1)