Normally, a series with the Cubs would be a bigger deal, but coming off a huge sweep of the Cards, this series seems almost to be an afterthought. However well the Reds played against St. Louis, there is still room for improvement. Hopefully Aroldis Chapman's DL stint will allow him to work with coaches to figure out what caused him to go all Rick Ankiel on the mound.
While the Reds are on a high, having won nine of their last eleven contests and sit 6 games over .500, the Cubs have gone 7-5 in their last 12, and are still 4 games under. No Cubs starter has an ERA under 4, and while their bullpen has been decent, they haven't had too many leads to protect.
Homer Bailey looks to continue his strong return from injury in his third start this season. Granted, he has only faced the Astros, but he had all his pitches working, and stayed ahead of batters for the most part. If he's controlling his pitches and throwing strikes (12:1 K/BB so far), I don't see why he can't be a very good pitcher this year. Perhaps 'Creds was onto something, predicting him to break out this season. Facing Bailey is noted psychopath Carlos Zambrano, who has pitched reasonably well this season, save for two rough outings, going at least 5 innings in every start so far. And outside of a 10 K game against the Padres, he doesn't have the electric swing-and-miss stuff he used to, sporting a 6.27 K/9, the second-lowest mark of his career.
I never really appreciated the impact of good defense until last season, and I think the old adage that "defense wins championships" might be onto something. It sure is nice not having to worry about seemingly routine grounders to short or line drives to right field, isn't it?
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