The Cubs' last seven-game winning streak is one you all ought to remember -- it was last year; the seventh game of the streak was the Aramis Ramirez walkoff HR game vs. the Brewers on June 29.
Jason Marquis, who has appeared in the last two games (Tuesday as a PH, last night as a PR), will start. The use of pitchers in these situations was taken to absurd extremes by the Brewers and Cardinals in their extra-inning game on Tuesday, with Ned Yost and Tony LaRussa forced to ridiculousness (three different pitchers pinch-hit and Albert Pujols played second base) because they are carrying up to 14 pitchers. Joe Sheehan addressed this at Baseball Prospectus yesterday: ($)
It is my hope that the two-game Cardinals/Brewers series, featuring rosters of 27 pitchers and 23 hitters, will come to mark the nadir of the trend towards carrying more pitchers that began nearly 30 years ago. I hope that the silliness of Tuesday afternoon—three pitchers being used as pinch-hitters, Albert Pujols playing second base, sacrifice bunting with one out and a runner on first because there were no real hitters available—makes managers and GMs realize that it’s all gone too far, that the desire to make sure you can play matchups on the mound has led to a dearth of options on offense. The first manager to reverse field and concede platoon advantages on defense in exchange for getting them at the plate and restricting usage to five relievers is going to have an edge on the field.
It’s not like Ned Yost is using the eight relievers at his disposal with any dexterity. Despite a bullpen so crowded it could pass for the uptown 1 at 5:15 p.m. and an opponent with no bench, Yost managed to bring Brian Shouse into a situation where he would have to face three straight right-handed batters. Two hits and a sac fly later, the Cardinals were back in the game. If you can’t use your six right-handed relievers to ensure that Shouse and his specialist skill set don’t have to face righties, you’re just not paying attention.
I want to put a thought into the head of Cardinals’ fans. After Cesar Izturis was forced from the game by an Eric Gagne fastball, Albert Pujols took over at second base. Starting the bottom of the ninth, Prince Fielder singled. For the next two batters, the following scenario loomed: Prince Fielder barreling down to second base while Pujols stood over the bag and waited for a throw as the middle man on a double play. That’s what, $100 million, $150 million worth of value hinging on a guy playing out of position.
For my part, I think that even twelve pitchers (which the Cubs have been carrying for the last three years, at least) is too many in most situations. It gives you, essentially, a four-man bench, since one of your bench players is the backup catcher. When you extend that to fourteen pitchers -- as the Brewers have done -- it gives you a TWO-man bench. Maybe it's just me, but there seem to have been a larger-than-usual number of extra-inning games so far this year (the last time the Cubs played five extra-inning games in March/April was 2000, and there are still six games left this month), and it would seem useful to have extra position players around.
|Today's Starting Pitchers|
|2008 - Jason Marquis||1-0||3||3||0||0||0||0||16.1||18||8||7||2||7||11||3.86||1.53|
|2008 - Aaron Cook||2-1||4||4||0||0||0||0||26.0||20||10||9||2||8||12||3.12||1.08|
Marquis had a real nice outing on Sunday against the Pirates, and he pitches today in a ballpark where he has never lost (3-0, 1.83 ERA). He's handled most of the current Rockies roster pretty well, except for Brad Hawpe, who is 8-for-15 vs. Marquis. Jason is also 4-for-8 with a double hitting in Coors Field; he's 2-for-6 against Aaron Cook.
Cook, for his part, hasn't faced any of the current Cub roster very much -- Derrek Lee has the most AB vs. Cook, seven. D-Lee is 3-for-7 with a double and four walks against Cook.
Today's overflow thread will post at 3:30 pm CDT; watch for it.
Today's game is on WGN, on cable in Colorado on FSN Rocky Mountain, and at the MLB.com Mediacenter.
MLB.com Gameday (2007 version)
MLB.com Gameday (2008 version)
Discuss amongst yourselves.