We have before us a series of epic consequences: the 10-11 Chicago Cubs do battle with the 14-7 Colorado Rockies. If the Cubs are able to overcome the odds and can actually string together consecutive victories, then we will learn that it's actually possible.
Series Preview: Cubs vs. Rockies
If, however, the Cubs continue lose as often as they win, then it will be revealed to us that - gasp! - this is a mediocre team. What's more, we'll learn that Chicago cannot possibly defeat teams that are actually good.
I'll give you a second for all of this to hit home. After the jump, we break down the individual contests.
Monday, April 25th - Matt Garza (0-2, 4.74 ERA) vs. Esmil Rogers (2-1, 6.75 ERA)
In a series of ironies, the unvictoried Matt Garza takes on Esmil Rogers, who has 2 wins despite an ERA that is 2 runs above the Cubs pitcher's. Garza, who is currently on pace to strike out 262 batters, is also on pace to give up lots, and lots, and lots of hits. Like, 255 in 185.2 projected innings. One of those two things - the massive amount of strikeouts, or the deluge of hits - is bound to stop.
Esmil Rogers, meanwhile, is a guy who has already matched his career total in wins, while also keeping pace with his career ERA (6.16 up til tonight). Word from inside sources within the Cubs clubhouse has Garza out of his mind with the pressure to win his first game in a Cubs uniform. This pressure is only going to continue to mount as April fades into May; therefore, the inconsistent Cubs lineup needs to rip Esmil a new one.
Tuesday, April 26th - James Russell (1-2, 8.00 ERA) vs. Jorge De La Rosa (3-0, 3.00 ERA)
I don't know what's more ironic - Garza's 0-fer win total, or the fact that James Russell has already won a game this year despite having an ERA that would get him kicked out of a slow pitch softball league. Last year, Russell was a passable relief pitcher. This year, he's been a bad-luck starter who's given up 3 homeruns in 9 innings. Obviously, he's just holding a spot for Randy Wells, but wouldn't it be nice if he actually pitched as if he belongs there?
De La Rosa is two years removed from a 16 win season with the Rockies. Last year he only managed 20 starts, but actually delivered a career-best ERA. Nonetheless, he can't win them all. Tuesday's as good a time as any for his first shellacking of the season. ::glares at Cubs lineup::
Wednesday, April 27th - Casey Coleman (1-1, 7.43 ERA) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (3-1, 2.67 ERA)
Coleman, like Russell, has inexplicably won a game this season. Now, I am want to believe that Casey is actually decent - he posted a 4.11 ERA last year as a rookie who split time between the rotation and bullpen, and if things don't work out with any of the other Cub starters, he's the first - and possibly only - choice of replacement. Therefore, dropping his ERA a bit from the mid 7's would be nice...
Jhoulys Chacin has the best name I think I have ever seen. He's also got a career 3.29 ERA in 175.1 innings of work. In other words, for a 23 year old who's pitching in Colorado, he's actually possibly pretty damn good.
But where's the actual series assessment?
I got nothin'. Except to say that part of the reason the Cubs have been so damned unimpressive so far this year stems from the fact that a full 40% of their pitching rotation belongs somewhere in Middle America, while another 20% of their rotation has piss-poor luck on the mound. So maybe - just maybe - they're better than 10-11.
But even if they are, and I'm not saying that that's the case, then the Cubs are not about to demonstrate their NL Central Dominance in a series in which the collective record of their starting pitchers is 2-5 with an ERA just north of Holy Shit, That's Bad.
Meanwhile, the actual offense of the team is violently disproportionate - Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney (snicker) are doing their jobs spectacularly, while Carlos Pena is doing exactly what Carlos Pena does best - bat below .200. Except The Big 0-fer hasn't hit a single homerun.
So..., well, don't expect the best, unless your concept of "the best" is something like "narrowly avoiding a sweep." I've argued in recent days that the Cubs are better than they appear to be. They won't prove me right, though, until they stop turning to awful stop-gap pitchers like Russell and Coleman. Until then, take your lumps, Cub fans.