In the wake of watching the Cubs miss what could have been a good chance at upgrading the future of the franchise, the team will focus on the present, and try to put a win on a record that doesn’t bear repeating. Pitcher Ryan Dempster will toe the rubber against a hungry St. Louis Cardinal team that has a playoff berth in sight.
St. Louis Cardinal Jake Westbrook will pitch opposite Dempster tonight, at 7:05 Central Time. The sinker specialist is highly adept at pounding the ball down in the zone. He’s managed 32 ground balls, as opposed to seven fly balls in his past two outings. Westbrook isn’t a strike-out pitcher, throwing mostly fastballs and cutters, and he relies heavily on his defense to convert those ground balls into outs.
Ryan Dempster is coming off his best month yet, although if you look at ERA, you wouldn’t think so. Dempster has a 4.91 ERA in July, however he’s striking out more batters (10.23 K/9), while keeping his walks down (2.86 BB/9). He’s been unlucky the past month, as hits have been falling in against Dempster in July, which lead to big innings. He’s pitching more like a ground ball specialist lately, so we’ll see if his defense picks him up. In his previous game against the Cardinals, he gave up six runs over five innings.
As for Cub batters, the main bats have been in a month-long slump. Starlin Castro has hit 50% worse than average. Carlos Pena has struck out over 30% of his at-bats. Alfonso Soriano has hit for a .183 batting average. Only Aramis Ramirez and Marlon Byrd have been above average contributors at the plate.
Still-Cub first baseman Carlos Pena has hit Westbrook the hardest, to a tune of .333/.395/.879. With some luck, Pena will be able to provide some RBIs out of the four-spot.
Considering the Cubs are currently on a five game losing skid, have a 1-7 record against the Cardinals, and are 17-34 on the road, things don’t look good for the Cubs tonight. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.