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Keep The Winning Streak Going: Cubs vs. Reds Preview, Friday 9/11, 1:20 CT

Since the Cubs last faced the Reds in Cincinnati on August 5, the Reds are 17-16. That sounds decent, but they have been an extremely streaky team. Starting on August 14, the Reds: lost five straight, then won one, lost two, won five, lost two, won seven, and lost four, their current streak (a four-game sweep at the hands of the Rockies). The seven-game winning streak -- two games longer than the Cubs' longest of the year -- includes a four-game sweep of the Pirates.

So, it should be time for the Cubs to extend that four-game Cincinnati losing streak to seven, to match their previous win streak. (And give the Cubs their longest winning streak of the year, too.)

Bruce Miles today tackles three topics we've discussed here at length recently: the futures of Jeff Baker, Milton Bradley and Carlos Marmol. Bruce correctly sums up what Jim and Lou did to ruin this year's bullpen (and without even mentioning Kevin Gregg):

If Jim Hendry is guilty of anything over the years when it comes to his bullpen, it's overthinking things and overpaying for veteran arms. Field manager Lou Piniella had a hand in things last off-season, when he basically ran Michael Wuertz out of town and Hendry traded for old favorite Aaron Heilman.

Wuertz, for whom the Cubs have nothing to show, is 6-1 with a 3.00 ERA and a tidy WHIP (walks plus hits per 1 inning pitched) of 1.01 with Oakland. Heilman is 2-3 with a 4.35 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.

For next season, the Cubs ought to focus within. Keep Marmol the closer, let Angel Guzman set up and re-sign lefty John Grabow, who has been effective since his trade from Pittsburgh. Promote from within, and you might get the job done at a fraction of what it has cost the Cubs over the years for mediocrity and worse.

Beyond Guzman, Grabow and Marmol, the Cubs have a large number of good arms at Triple-A, many of whom we've seen this year (Justin Berg, Jeff Stevens, Esmailin Caridad) and at least two we haven't, but who will be in the Arizona Fall League (Andrew Cashner, John Gaub). AFL players are often on the fast track to the majors. It seems to me that you could put together a pretty decent major league bullpen out of some of those arms, rather than overpaying for mediocre veteran middle relievers. And closers, too; Gregg joins a long list of failed veteran acquired closers for the Cubs (Dave Smith, Doug Jones, Mel Rojas -- need I go on?).

Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Harden
Rich Harden
vs. Justin Lehr
Justin Lehr
9-8 W-L 4-1
4.10 ERA 4.43
162 SO 16
59 BB 19
23 HR 5
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs

2009 - Rich Harden 9-8 25 24 0 0 0 0 134.0 115 68 61 23 59 162 4.10 1.30

2009 - Justin Lehr 4-1 7 7 1 1 0 0 44.2 46 22 22 5 19 16 4.43 1.46

Today's game is a rematch of the August 5 game in Cincinnati where the Cubs failed to show up. Oh, they were there in body, but let Justin Lehr throw a four-hit shutout. Since then Lehr has been -- not so good, going 3-1 in five starts, but with a 5.58 ERA. That's the guy the Cubs need to pound today. He's walked 19 and struck out 16 in 44.2 innings, so patience at the plate today should help.

Rich Harden threw well enough on August 5 -- two earned runs in six innings. Playing at Wrigley, where the Cubs swept the Reds in July, should help. Harden threw one of those games, on July 26, allowing the Reds only one hit in six innings, a solo HR by Joey Votto. That's the only career hit Votto has had off Harden in 10 AB.

TV today is WGN, plus FSN Ohio (which means EI viewers get to hear the Brennamans. Turn the sound off). For other games today see the Mediacenter. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter.

Once again, just two overflow threads today -- 2:30 and 3:30 pm CDT. If there's a need for another one, please post as a FanShot.

Discuss amongst yourselves.