LILLY GREAT, CUBS MEDIOCRE
Ted Lilly is out of his mind. He’s allowed only 2 HRs in 53 innings. He’s K’d 48 while only walking 8. His ERA is 2.53. Marquis has been awesome, as has Rich Hill. But despite having 3 of the top starters in MLB, the Cubs are 17-18 and 7 games back of the Brewers. So what are the problems?
1) Zambrano. Big Z has been Big Brutal. No other NL pitcher has allowed more homers than Zambrano’s 10. His ERA is close to 6. More hits than innings pitched and a weak K/BB ratio of 35-24. The league is hitting .278 against him. Even if Hill, Lilly and Marquis have career years, the big dude has to get it going–and soon.
2) Baserunning. The Cubs have been brutal on the bases. They are just 17/26 in stolen bases and they’ve been picked off bases too many times to remember. Soriano has been the leading offender.
3) Middle Relief. Eyre and Howry have been terrible. Eyre entered the game on Saturday and his first pitch was a BP fastball that Abraham Nunez jacked to the gap for a triple. Howry got shelled in that loss too. At some point Piniella will have to flip-flop the bullpen. Wuertz, Cotts and Cherry will have to be first out of the pen if Howry and Eyre continue to struggle. Maybe the answer is to trade one of the many outfielders (Jacque Jones) for another solid arm.
The Cubs are hitting well but are still an impatient team at the plate, ranked 26th in walks. Their OF defense has been bad and that’s not going to change with Pie in the minors, Jones in CF and Murton anywhere. Too many problems for a team that is supposed to contend and they could be as many as 10 games out with a bad series in New York.