Welp, the Cubs managed a split out of their impromptu two game series in Hotlanta. With Thursday’s rainout, the Cubs add their third make up game to the schedule. The Cubs now roll into the ‘Nati to face the RedLegs in an important divisional three game series. The Cubs (26-25) will get ace Carlos Zambrano back on Friday with Ryan Dempster going on Saturday, and rookie sensation Randy Wells pitching on Sunday.
The reason this series is important is because the Cubs will not see Aaron Harang, Edinson Volquez, or Johnny Cueto, and no Joey Votto. Instead, the Cubs will face the trio of Micah Owings, Matt Maloney, and Bronson Arroyo. Simply put, if the Cubs are going to win the division, they must win series like this. This weekend we will get a good indication of what this Cubs team can do. If they are good and a legit contender, then they win this series with little problem, if they lose the series, they are in trouble.
Here is our review of the RedLegs from earlier this year, but since that time Dusty’s boys have experienced some ups and downs. First baseman Joey Votto, who has been flat raking this year, is on the DL with a “stress related personal issue.” Second baseman Brandon Phillips just came off the DL with a fractured finger and center fielder Willy Taveras has been nursing a tender hamstring. Oh, and ace pitcher Edinson Volquez is injured as well.
The Cubs are not completely healthy either as third baseman Aramis Ramirez is still out and right fielder Milton Bradley is dealing with a right calf strain. However, there is good news as pitcher Rich Harden is set to come off the DL and will start in Chicago against Minnesota on June 12. Here are the pitching matchups:
Game 1 – 7:10 pm EST, CSN/FSN Ohio
Carlos Zambrano (3-2 4.22 ERA) vs. Micah Owings (3-6 5.10 ERA)
Big Z returns to the mound after serving his six game suspension for his outburst after being ejected from his last start. Prior to being ejected, Zambrano was pitching quite well going 6 1/3 innings, giving up only two runs against Pittsburgh. Z will also be looking for his 100th career victory.
Micah Owings has not fared well as of late. In his last start, Sunday against Milwaukee, Owings lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up five earned runs. The big right hander is winless in his last three starts with an 8.56 ERA over that stretch. This matchup also features perhaps the two best hitting pitchers in baseball, should be fun to watch.
Game 2 – 7:10 pm EST, WGN/FSN Ohio
Ryan Dempster (4-3 4.48 ERA) vs. Matt Maloney (0-0 0.00 ERA)
Dempster was brilliant last time out. On Saturday against the Dodgers, Dempster went 7 innings, allowed only 3 hits and 0 runs en route to his 4th victory of the season. He has been dealing with a blister on one of his pitching fingers, but it does not appear to be much of an issue.
Maloney will make his MLB debut on Saturday after being called up to replace Edinson Volquez. Maloney is a left hander who has posted solid number while pitching for the Louisville Bats. At the time of his call-up, the lefty was 4-3 with a 2.00 ERA.
Game 3 – 1:10 pm EST, WGN/FSN Ohio
Randy Wells (0-2 1.69 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (7-4 5.37 ERA)
Randy Wells has been great since coming to the majors. The man should be at least 4-0 as he has posted a quality start every outing except his first, in which he gave up no runs over five innings (to qualify as a quality start, a pitcher must last at least six innings and give up no fewer than three earned runs).
Arroyo was not great his last time out. The man who is probably more famous for his JTM commercials than being a baseball player, lasted only 5 1/3 innings against St. Louis and gave up 5 earned runs in taking the loss. Arroyo can run the gamut in terms of what kind of outing he gives you. He has thrown complete game shut outs and also given up 9 runs in the 1st inning.