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Going For Another Quick Sweep: Cubs vs. Phillies Preview, Thursday 5/20, 12:05 CT

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This is a weird week in baseball. You look at the scoreboards one day and are just getting used to seeing certain matchups and the next day, they change. And then there will be 14 interleague games this weekend (the only NL matchup: Braves vs. Pirates).

So the Cubs, riding a four-game winning streak, will go for their second straight two-game sweep this afternoon, then head out of Philadelphia having barely had enough time to sleep there.

I know you'll be interested in hearing how Phil Rogers thinks the Cubs can be fixed this year. It's his usual collection of bizarre ideas, but this one's the weirdest:
[Ryan] Dempster could turn a bad bullpen into a good one, if he's up for such a seemingly downward move in the second year of his four-year contract.

Huh? I mean whaaaaaa? Didn't we just try this? And wasn't that experiment deemed a failure? We are about to get Carlos Zambrano back in the rotation -- perhaps by the weekend series against the Cardinals -- though I enjoyed this Jayson Stark tweet about Z's appearance last night:

Cubs "stretched out" Zambrano by having him throw 2 pitches in the 8th tonight. At this rate, he'll be ready to start in just 50 more apps.

The crew on MLB Tonight on the MLB Network last night were discussing this very topic: who leaves the rotation when Z returns? They suggested it might be Ted Lilly, who doesn't seem to be quite the same since his return. I'm not necessarily suggesting this, just passing along the info. Many of you will say the answer is "Carlos Silva", and it is certainly possible he won't be able to continue throwing as well as he has. But until he fails, I don't see how you can take Silva out of the rotation.

In the meantime, the best chance for a Cub sweep this afternoon lies with the right arm of Ryan Dempster, who has been the Cubs' most consistent starter since 2008 -- since returning to the rotation at the start of that year, he is 30-19 in 72 starts with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster
Cubs
vs. Joe Blanton
Joe Blanton
Phillies
2-4 W-L 1-2
3.49 ERA 5.49
55 SO 12
19 BB 4
6 HR 4
vs. Phi -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Ryan Dempster 2-4 9 8 0 0 0 0 56.2 43 22 22 6 19 55 3.49 1.09


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Joe Blanton 1-2 3 3 0 0 0 0 19.2 21 12 12 4 4 12 5.49 1.27

Joe Blanton has made two career starts vs. the Cubs; the Phillies lost to the Cubs in 2008 and beat them in 2009, but Blanton has two no-decisions and a 2.13 ERA in 12.2 total innings. No current Cub has homered off him, but Alfonso Soriano is 5-for-14 with a double, a triple, and, surprisingly, a walk. Blanton has, however, already allowed four homers in three starts, including three against the Brewers in his last outing.

Ryan Dempster started quite a few games vs. the Phillies in his previous incarnation as a starter with the Marlins. The only really relevant starts are the one last year and the one in 2008 -- Demp got hit pretty hard in those two, a combined 6.92 ERA in 13 innings, with a loss and a no-decision. He'll need to be on his game today, as current Phillies are hitting .311 (32-for-103) against him. The only Phillie who has homered off him (once) is Ryan Howard.

Today's game is on WGN and CSN Philadelphia. 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 Phillies site The Good Phight/a>.

Tonight's first pitch thread will be up at noon CDT, and the overflows will post at 1, 2 and 2:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.