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Come to Think of it…Chicago Cubs Bullpen Better Used in Moderation

The Cubs bullpen just isn’t good enough to support starting pitchers who can only go 5-6 innings per start. If a Cubs pitcher goes seven innings or more, and Wood is healthy and throwing well, the combination of Marmol and Wood can usually get it done.

But when a pitcher doesn’t go deep into the game, as was the case today with Rich Harden, there is no way our pen can hold the opposing team down.

First of all, it seems every time Howry comes in he gives up at least one run, usually a home run. Maybe they released the wrong guy in Eyre today. Perhaps it should have been Bob Howry.

Of course, add to the misery the fact that Carlos Marmol went through a really bad stretch from June through mid-July.

And Kerry Wood had been unable to pitch since July 11 because of a blister, until today.

Even Chad Gaudin has been unreliable. So who is left?

Well, the answer is few bullpens are good enough to support a short staff. Here’s how the Cubs rotation has performed over their last 10 starts:

* All Cubs starters have averaged just over 6 innings per start, except Rich Harden who has averaged exactly 6 innings since joining the Cubs and Carlos Zambrano, who has averaged just less than 7 innings per start.

But when a starter goes less than six is when we notice the problems in our bullpen.

Here’s how Cubs relievers have performed over their last 10 appearances:

* Bob Howry has been scored upon in five of his last 10 appearances
* Kerry Wood, Carlos Marmol and Chad Gaudin each have been scored upon in three of their last 10 appearances
* Sean Marshall has been scored upon in six if his last 10 appearances
* Neal Cotts has been scored upon in only two of his last 10 appearances

Incidentally, Scott Eyre, released today, had given up runs in four of his last 10 appearances, in case you were wondering. Couldn’t they have sent Marshall to Iowa and kept the veteran Eyre? It’s obvious Marshall isn’t pitching well anyway.

Well, at least the Cubs won today, though once again a relief pitcher (Howry) got a win he didn’t deserve. Of course, Harden can’t just blame the bullpen today as he wasn’t at his best, forcing more from the pen than what they are capable of. Come to think of it, some things are better in small doses.

-Bob Warja

Come to Think of it…Kerry Wood Openly Sore About Open Sore

Forget about that pesky blister that has kept Cubs closer Kerry Wood sidelined since July 11. It is no longer simply a blister, but it is an open sore on his finger.

Wood surprised everyone by throwing off a mound at Miller Park this morning, using a protective pad. Since he cannot use that pad in a game, the effort was more to keep his arm and shoulder fluid as opposed to testing out whether he could actually pitch in a real game.

But that, too, is coming. And soon, if the admittedly “antsy” Wood has his way.

“I’m beyond antsy,” the All-Star pitcher said. “I mean, this is the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen as far as skin. I can’t explain it. Nobody here can explain it and we’ve been to several doctors and it just hasn’t gotten any better.”

He has been eligible to return to the active roster since Tuesday. But the longer this drags on, the more likely a rehab in the minors is going to be.

Therefore, one day after Cubs manager Lou Piniella said that Wood “wasn’t close to returning…so why risk it,” Kid K was back on a mound throwing about 24 pitches.

Wood described how the injury has morphed into something more serious. “It’s not a blister anymore. It’s an open wound, it’s an open sore on my finger. The skin’s missing,” Wood said. “We’re trying to toughen up that skin that has come back a little bit, try to toughen that up and get it as hard as we can. What we’ve been trying the last couple of days, it seems to have hardened up quite a bit.”

I hope Wood doesn’t try to rush back too quickly. For one, the Cubs are winning. But more importantly, why risk having him miss the stretch run or the playoffs because the wound got worse or because he altered his pitching motion and caused an arm injury?

It’s frustrating, to be sure. And a lot of fans don’t understand it and think he’s being soft. But after all Wood has gone through, with twelve DL stints in ten years, if he was soft he would be selling cars rather than trying to pitch. After all, he’s made an enormous amount of money already in his career.

So we can wait a bit longer, Kerry. Take your time and let this thing heal properly so that it won’t be a problem down the line. Come to think of it, as the Cubs offense has proved this year, patience is a virtue.

Seventh Heaven

The Cubs are very well represented at the MLB All-Star Game this year, sending seven players to the game that could decide whether or not they will have home field advantage in the World Series.

They send three players who will start, three pitchers, and one reserve.

So what is the scouting report on each player that is reppen Cubbie blue?

Gevoany Soto

Soto has been a great addition for the Cubs and has helped get the taste of Michael Barrett out of our mouthes.

He is batting .291 with 14 home runs and 51 RBI’s, outstanding numbers for any player, especially a catcher who spends the game destroying their knees.

It’s not his first All-Star game, he has been to two minor league All-Star games.

Kosuke Fukudome

Fukudome has been a big addition from the Cubs in his first season from Japan. He has helped the Cubs be a more patient team, and his stats aren’t half bad either.

He has a .285 batting average with seven home runs, 35 RBI’s, eight stolen bases, and a .391 OBP.

He’s not only an offensive player, he is a great defensive player as well, shown by his many diving catches this season as well as winning a Gold Glove in Japan.

Alfonso Soriano

Soriano may have spent a lot of time on the DL, but he has been good when he has played.

Despite being a streaky player who has missed time, he still has 15 home runs, 40 RBI’s, and seven stolen bases with a .283 batting average.

Soriano has also been voted in for his defense, which has been stellar throughout his career.

Ryan Dempster

Dempster has been a big surprise for the Cubs ever since moving back from the closer spot.

This season, he has a 3.24 ERA, a 9-3 record, and 91 strikeouts, and emerged as a solid number two on the Cubs.

Carlos Zambrano

Zambrano has been stellar like always for the Cubs, which has earned him yet another All-Star selection.

Zambrano has been pitching especially well this season, however, currently at 9-3 with a 2.96 ERA and 73 strike outs.

Kerry Wood

Wood has been another big surprise for the Cubs. He was expected to be a good middle relief pitcher at best, but he has stepped into the closer role perfectly.

He has 22 saves so far this season, second in the NL, as well as a 2.91 ERA, which means he is only going to give up a run once every 3 games.

Aramis Ramirez

Ramirez has been just as good as always, bringing power to the middle of the lineup. He has also been a good defensive player despite his lack of quickness.

He has 15 home runs on the season, which puts him on pace for yet another season with over 30 homers. He is also batting .280 with 57 RBI’s.

So there you have it, the Cubs All-Stars.

Hope you all enjoyed your 4th of July’s, and enjoy todays game against the Cards.