July: New Month, Same Story. Cubs vs. Reds Preview, Friday 7/2, 1:20 CT

This season makes very little sense. In 2006, when the Cubs had a slide similar to what they had in June 2010, that team had really only one good player left (Aramis Ramirez) after Derrek Lee went down. Seriously. Ronny Cedeno was the starting SS, and among position players who started a significant number of games that year were Freddie Bynum, John Mabry, Phil Nevin and Neifi Perez. Mark Prior, Juan Mateo, Wade Miller, Glendon Rusch, Les Walrond, Jae Kuk Ryu and Jerome Williams combined for 38 starts and a 7.21 ERA in 161 innings.

The 2006 Cubs finished second-to-last in runs scored, but also second-to-last in runs allowed.

The 2010 Cubs are better than that. We all know about their lack of run scoring, but the pitching staff has been very good. As of this morning the team ERA of 3.88 ranks sixth in the National League. All five teams with better ERA's have winning records, as do two of the teams below the Cubs. They rank second in quality starts (50), one behind the Cardinals.

I don't think I have ever seen a group of hitters that are this good, underperform their abilities by as much as the current Cub hitters are. It's completely inexplicable. There is no reason these hitters should be ahead of only the Astros and Pirates in the NL in runs scored (and 26th out of 30 major league teams).

I just don't get it. Do any of you?

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster
Cubs
vs. Bronson Arroyo
Bronson Arroyo
Reds
6-6 W-L 7-4
3.58 ERA 4.49
105 SO 52
37 BB 39
15 HR 12
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Ryan Dempster 6-6 17 16 1 0 0 0 110.2 93 45 44 15 37 105 3.58 1.17


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Bronson Arroyo 7-4 16 16 1 0 0 0 106.1 98 53 53 12 39 52 4.49 1.29

Bronson Arroyo has not faced the Cubs since June 7, 2009, when he got a no-decision in a 14-inning game that the Cubs won. It is instructive to look at that boxscore. No fewer than 12 players who appeared for the Cubs that day are no longer on the major league roster. Arroyo is 7-6 lifetime in 19 appearances (12 starts) against the Cubs with a 3.06 ERA. I could tell you that some Cubs hit him, but would that really matter these days?

Ryan Dempster lost to the Reds on May 9 in Cincinnati. That was the day that Lou had Sean Marshall ready to go, but left Dempster in for one batter too long -- Joey Votto, who smashed a game-winning three-run homer off him. That's one of a pair of HR Votto has hit off Dempster; Votto just loves hitting Cub pitching. 14 of his 71 career HR are off the Cubs.

Today's game is on WGN and FSN Ohio. Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 1:15 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 2:15, 3:15 and 4 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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