All offseason, I said it would be a three-way race between the Brewers, the Cubs, and the Cardinals. When pressed, I'd say I figured the Cards were the team to beat. I backed off on that a little bit as the season approached, and now I've done a complete 180. Forget about the Cardinals. If any team in the Central is going to beat the Brewers, it's the Cubs. Here's why:
- In terms of runs scored and runs allowed, they are already beating us. If it were August, I wouldn't put much stock in that stat--by then, you've accumulated most of your actual wins and losses. But in April, we're looking for signs of just how good a team is. Based on those indicators, the Cubs are a slightly better team than the Brewers.
- Like the Brewers, the Cubs have many players who aren't playing anywhere near their potential. Check out their stats so far: Zambrano has a 7.77 ERA, Soriano has a .702 OPS, and their fifth starter has an ERA over 10.00.
Of course, you could say the same thing about the Brewers: we haven't gotten the defense we'd like, Sheets is still warming up, and we can't lose any more games because of Greg Aquino for a while. But my point is this: it's easy to look at the standings at mock the Cubs. (In fact, I'll do it, and I encourage that you do, too.) But the difference between the Brewers 11-7 and the Cubs 7-11 is largely luck up to this point. This series would be a nice time to a) open up that gap a little more, and b) suggest that it's more than just luck.
Here are the pitching matchups for the weekend:
- Monday, 7:05 CT: Claudio Vargas vs. Carlos Zambrano
- Tuesday, 7:05 CT: Jeff Suppan vs. Rich Hill
- Wednesday, 1:20 CT: Ben Sheets vs. Ted Lilly
Should you care to venture over to the dark side:
Goat Riders: Wade Miller is awful. Surely there's somebody in Triple-A who can pitch better than Miller is.
View From the Bleachers: With Pie playing center and an 11-man pen when Lou wants 12, the Cubs have a roster crunch. Aramis for Capellan, perhaps?
- Bleed Cubbie Blue: Piniella ain't so good with the bullpen management, either.