* 7/29/07 - 12:15 PM CDT: Chicago Cubs (54-48, 2nd NLC); (27-24 Road W-L) @ Cincinnati Reds (45-60, 5th NLC); (24-28 Home W-L)
Forecast : 82°F
Feels like: 86°F
Sunset: 8:53 PM
Probability of Precip:10 %
Outlook: Mostly Sunny with light breeze from NE at 9 MPH (From 1st base side to 3rd base side)
Overall: Looks to be a comfortable sunny day with a light breeze.
Pitching Match up: Carlos Zambrano *RHP* (13-7, 3.65 ERA;1.26 WHIP) vs. Matt Belisle *RHP* (5-7, 5.28 ERA;1.45 WHIP)
-Matt Belisle: Belisle, a reliever turned starter in this 07' season, is still scheduled to pitch the finale of this series. This Texan righty has struggled mightily for a while now, posting a 0-3 record with an 8.63 ERA in 9 starts since the beginning of June. Belisle's first problem is the amount of hits he's given up. Despite a rather strong 2.1 Walks/per 9, Belisle allows base runners at a 1.45 per inning rate while stranding just 65.7% of them. The second problem for Belisle is his poor homerun prevention; Belisle has a 43.6% ground ball % and he allows his share of fly balls of which 13.2% of them leave the yard. Belisle also allows 22.2% line drives per batted balls which isn't a desirable number for a pitcher who gets a lot of contact (A 6.2 Ks per 9 and 2.1 walks per 9 makes for a good amount of contact). Belisle is 1-6 at home this year with a 6.22 ERA and a hefty .316 Opposing Batting Average. In his career against the Cubs (12 appearances; 1 start), Belisle is 0-2 with a 5.94 ERA in 16.2 innings. He has not faced the Cubs this year. In his last start against the Brewers, Belisle lasted just 3.2 innings while surrendering 4 earned runs on 6 hits and 2 walks to 3 strikeouts.
-Carlos Zambrano: Zambrano continues his bounce-back campaign in tomorrow's rubber match and has a decent shot at winning 20 games. While Belisle worsened since early June, his opponent has done quite the opposite. In 11 starts spanning over June and July, Zambrano is 8-3 with a 2.19 ERA. The hard-throwing Venezuelan has a 7.69 Ks per 9 this year with a wild 3.90 Walks per 9. Keep in mind, however, that Zambrano's horrible April and May still have profound effect on Z's numbers. Zambrano allows base runners at a rate of 1.26 per inning while stranding 76.9% of them. Zambrano's ground ball % has dipped to 44% this year while he allows 11.3 % HRs per fly. His homerun prevention has been very good as of late however. Of the contact Zambrano allows, only 15.8% of those batted balls are line drives (5th best in the NL). Zambrano has chalked up 143 innings of work this year while throwing a pretty high 4.1 Pitches per plate appearance. In 11 starts on the road this year, Zambrano is 8-2 with a 3.11 ERA and a .221 Opposing Batting Average. In his career against Cincinnati (23 Apps;19 Starts), Zambrano has an 8-7 record with a 3.39 ERA in 124.2 Innings of work. In 2 starts against the Red this year (Both in April), Zambrano is 0-2 with an 11.00 ERA. In his last start at St.Louis, Zambrano went 6.1 innings while allowing 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks to 5 strikeouts.
-CUBS- The Cubs' O showed some finally showed some thump in game 2 and in general had a good offensive day. Lee is definitely coming around while Soriano may be as well (Talk about streaky). If the Cubs can regain the power dimension of their offense, they are going to score a lot of runs. If there has to be a negative, It'll have to be on the sloppy base running. If Sweet Lou has no voice tomorrow, you'll know why.
-I- Who's hot?: Derrek Lee is starting to come around, especially in the power category. Lee is 10 for his last 27 (.370) with 4 homers and 9 RBIs.
-II- Who's not?: Aramis Ramirez is 1 for his last 7 (.143) and has 1 RBI since July 22nd. A day off should do him good.
-III- Lee Lifts off: Derrek Lee is 3 for 4 (.750/.800/1.750) lifetime against Belisle with a double and a homerun. Aramis Ramirez is 2 for 7 (.286/.286/1.143) with 2 homers.
-IV- Reeking Red head: Murton is 0 for 3 (.000) lifetime against Belisle.
-REDS- The red-hot Reds' offense was cooled off in game 2 of this 3 game set but still has some hot bats and big mashers to put up some big numbers. Griffey Jr. should be returning to the lineup tomorrow to face off against Carlos Zambrano.
-I- Over and Dunn with: While Adam Dunn is just 11 for 42 (.262/.396/.690) lifetime against Zambrano, 6 of those hits were round-trippers. Griffey Jr. is 9 for 21 (.429/.520/.905). Jeff Conine is 5 for 9 (.556/.556/.667).
-II- No deal for Freel: Ryan Freel is just 3 for 16 (.188/.350/.188) lifetime against Zambrano. Valentin is 3 for 12 (.250/.250/.333). Phillips is 2 for 13 (.154/.313/.462). Ross is 2 for 12 (.167/.286/.667).
-IV- Who's not: Griffey Jr. is 5 for his last 33 (.151) with a homer and 2 RBIs.
What to hope for:
- Zambrano stays hot while Belisle stays cold. Let's keep it trendy :)
What to watch for:
- What's the deal with Murton in and out of the lineup? Trade? Illness? Injury? Call-up? This is probably answered before I even post this preview...
1- Soriano LF
2- Theriot SS
3- Lee 1B
4- Ramirez 3B
5- DeRosa 2B
6- Murton RF
7- Jones CF
8- Hill C
9- Zambrano P