Blah blah blah, this is a big one, whatever. I don't care how on-the-bubble Sheets is or that we're getting Cameron back or that we're playing the Cubs. It's game #26, and after the series, we'll have 134 left. So let's all chill out about that.
That said, it will certainly be an interesting series. Here are some things I've noticed, and others I'll be watching for.
- We all knew the Cubs were going to be a good team, but there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of their 16-9 start. They've had a relatively easy schedule, and while they've played a couple of good teams, they haven't beaten very many good pitchers. Their two-game sweep in New York came off of John Maine and Nelson Figueroa, and while they beat Aaron Harang (hats off to them), they lost to Edinson Volquez. We took the series at Wrigley to open the season, and there's very little I've seen since to indicate that the Cubs are clearly the better team.
- Left field for the Cubs is a giant, yawning chasm of suck. Soriano was awful before his injury, and while DeRosa has been okay in his starts in left field, that leaves Mike Fontenot (OPS: 545) at second base. The Cubs have the offense at other positions to more than make up for it, but it's unusual to see so many people work together to produce so little at an offensive position.
- Kerry Wood isn't the best reliever in the bullpen, but he'll do. He's striking out about one batter per inning and generally doing a good impression of a major league closer. Carlos Marmol, on the other hand, is downright dominant. I'm not about to give Piniella credit for strategery, but if the Cubs have Wood pitching like this in the 9th and Marmol putting out fires whenever necessary, they will be in very good shape. Maybe even good enough to escape the negative effects of a soft pen outside of those two guys.
- A big part of the Cubs' 16-9 start has been the offensive production of Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome. Neither one is a huge surprise, though I don't think most people expected both of them to have 900+ OPSs. Right now, everybody but the left fielders are hitting better than expected, but Soto and Fukudome are in a whole different category.
- Ryan Dempster currently has an ERA of 2.90 and an FIP of 4.24. Something's gotta give. A walk rate over 4 per 9 suggests that the ERA will budge first. If his HR rate ends up around his career average (or worse, as it was last year), that 4.24 will look mighty appealing to Cubs fans.
- As regular readers know, I am not concerned about the goings-on of small samples, so I could care less about the poor clutch hitting over the weekend, or David Riske's last couple of outings. The Brewers offense as presently constituted will score lots and lots of runs, no matter how bad they look on any given day.
If all that wasn't enough to think about, mark your calendars for Thursday afternoon: Carlos Zambrano and Yovani Gallardo. Nice.