Thursday, July 26, 2007

7/27/07 CHI @ CIN Game 1 Preview!

So the Cubs failed to pick up the sweep in their last game. They still didn't lose any ground and after all, a series win is a series win. The club just has to focus on winning series after series and pretty soon it could lead one from being 7.5 out of 1st to just 2.0 games out of 1st. The Cubs need to focus on bouncing back tomorrow and taking the series opener. And for the fans: Just remember how bad it was before June (Seems like years ago too). This is a different ball club with a different attitude and the air about them that makes you feel like they could win every game. Sadly this is baseball, and winning every game just doesn't happen. Gather yourselves together, take it a game at a time, and keep the faith!


* 7/27/07 - 6:10 PM CDT: Chicago Cubs (53-47, 2nd NLC); (26-23 Road W-L) @ Cincinnati Reds (44-59, 5th NLC); (23-27 Home W-L)

-Weather Forecast-
Forecast : 81°F
Feels like: 85°F
Sunset: 8:55 PM
Probability of Precip:50 %
Outlook: Chance of scattered thunder-storms throughout the day with wind blowing in from SW at 9 MPH (Coming in from right field foul pole to 3rd base dugout.)
Overall: Looks to be cloudy and wet with comfortable temperatures.

Pitching Match up: Rich Hill *LHP* (6-6, 3.58 ERA;1.14 WHIP) vs. Bronson Arroyo *RHP* (4-11, 4.58 ERA;1.45 WHIP)

Analysis:

-Bronson Arroyo: When Bronson Arroyo came over to the Reds in 2006, nobody was prepared for the dominant season that he embarked on. Nowadays, nobody was prepared for how poorly he would pitch so far this year. With a 4-11 record and a 4.58 ERA, it wouldn't be ignorant to say that the NL has found out Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo is a big time fly ball pitcher with just a 34% groundball percentage. His homerun prevention is pretty good at 8.0% HRs per Flys when you consider his home park and amount of fly balls given up. Arroyo gives up a ton of line drives at a 22.1% rate - not that far behind Looper whom the Cubs faced in their last game. Arroyo allows base runners at a 1.45 per inning rate and strands 69.0% of them this year. His K/9 is pretty solid at 6.36 K/per 9, but his walk rate is up this year at 3.08 Walks/per 9. Overall, you have an inning-eating fly ball/line drive who gives up far too many base runners this year and suffers because of it. Arroyo is 2-3 at home this year with a 5.96 ERA in 9 starts (51.1 innings). Arroyo has a 4-5 record against Chicago in his lifetime with a 3.07 ERA; He's 0-2 against them this year (2 starts) with a 3.95 ERA. In his last start at Florida, Arroyo suffered the loss while giving up 4 earned runs on 8 hits (2 homers) and 4 walks to 6 strikeouts.

-Rich Hill: It's common knowledge now that Rich Hill has a pretty good Kip from Napoleon Dynamite impression. The real question is: Which Rich Hill is going to show up at the ballpark tomorrow? Hill is prone to having melt-downs here and there, as many pitchers are, but overall his numbers remain solid. The main problem with Rich Hill is homerun prevention: Hill is a fly ball pitcher with a 35.0% ground ball percentage but also has a 14.2% HRs per Fly (3rd worst in the NL). This usually leads to a handful of homeruns, which Rich Hill (19 in 118 innings) surely has. Hill also has a 21.8% line drive percentage which is pretty high and right around what Arroyo has. Boy, two fly ball/line drive pitchers facing off tomorrow in the Great American Ballpark... On the bright side, Hill allows base runners at a very good 1.14 per inning rate while he strands 79.4% of them (3rd best in the NL behind Chuck James and John Smoltz). Hill also has a stellar 8.0 K's/per 9, which is among the best in the NL. Hill also allows 2.9 walks/per 9 as well, which isn't that bad. Hill is 3-4 on the road this year with a 3.48 ERA and has a 7.20 ERA lifetime ERA at the G.A.Ballpark (1 start - 5 innings). In his career against the Reds, Hill has a 2-2 record with a 4.44 ERA in 4 career starts. He has faced them once this year at Wrigley, shutting them down over 7 innings on just 3 hits and 4 walks to 4 strikeouts. In last start against Arizona, Hill went 6 innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits and 4 walks to 6 strikeouts.

--OFFENSE--

-CUBS- The Cubs have been hitting the ball well as of late, but they just don't seem to score a lot from those hits. In their 3 game series against the Cardinals, the Cubs managed 31 hits leading to 12 runs scored. However, 17 hits led to just 5 runs in games 1 and 3 combined. If one positive is to come out of this, it's that the Cubs have shown they can score enough runs to win the ball game without the homerun as of late. Another good thing to bring up is that Derrek Lee has homered again, sending his latest home run to the opposite field. If Lee gets some of that power back, the Cubs have a very capable offense.

-I- Who's hot?: What the heck, Give this one to Floyd. Floyd seems to be warming up, hitting 4 for last 8 (.500) and really crushing some of those hits.
-II- Who's not?: Alfonso Soriano is 4 for his last 24 (.167) with 1 run scored and nary an RBI. His defense has been sloppy as well recently..

-III- A Floyd Force: Cliff Floyd is 5 for 12 (.417/.461/.750) lifetime against Arroyo with a double, homer, and a walk. Aramis Ramirez is 7 for 20 (.350/.409/.550).
-IV- Joke Jones: Jones is 4 for 25 (.160/.192/.200) lifetime against Arroyo with 4 strikeouts. Soriano is 4 for 23 (.174/.167/.261). Lee is 4 for 16 (.250/.368/.438). Cedeno is 3 for 15 (.200/.235/.267)

-REDS- The Reds' offense has been on as of late. In their last two games against the Brewers, the Reds have manged to score 13 runs. With the power bats of Griffey and Dunn anchoring the middle of that Reds lineup along with the speedy breakout offensive force Brandon Phillips, the Reds have an offense capable of putting up big numbers on the scoreboard in a hurry.

-I- Hopin' on Hopper: Norris Hopper is 2 for 6 (.333/.333/.833) lifetime against Rich Hill with 1 home run.
-II- Dunnce: Adam Dunn hasn't quite figured out Rich Hill yet: He's 2 for 10 (.200/.273/.200) lifetime against Hill with 2 strikeouts. Edwin Encarnacion is 1 for 8 (.125/.364/.500). Ryan Freel is 1 for 7 (.143/.33/.571). David Ross is 0 for 7 (.000). Brandon Phillips is 2 for 9 (.222/.222/.333). Griffey Jr. is 1 for 4 (.250/.400/.250).

-III- Who's hot?: Jeff Keppinger is 9 for last 23 (.391) with a homer and 7 RBIs.
-IV- Who's not: Griffey Jr. is 5 for his last 30 (.167) with a homer and 2 RBIs. However, 3 of those hits, the homerun, and the 2 RBIs came in Griffey's last game.

What to hope for:
- Hill keeps the ball down and doesn't throw those flat curves that usually get crushed.


What to watch for:
- Plenty of fly balls, line drives, and infielders falling asleep on the field.

Projected Lineup:

1- Soriano LF
2- Theriot SS
3- Lee 1B
4- Ramirez 3B
5- Floyd RF
6- DeRosa 2B
7- Jones CF
8- Kendall C
9- Hill P

Go Cubs!

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