Handicapping The Weekend Series

11:41 AM | Comments (1) | by Rich Funk

As if we needed any more excitement going into the weekend series with the Pirates, I'm going to handicap the upcoming series, just scant hours before the first pitch. The Pirates have really embraced their role as spoilers over the last few weeks, and the Cubs seem to have a habit of playing down to the competition at times. Despite this, I like our chances. Let's take a look at today's game:

GAME 1 - Marquis (12-8) vs. Maholm (10-15)
As with any matchup, there's always good and bad. I'll start with the bad just to get it out of the way. The bad news is that the Cubs have yet to beat Maholm. He's 4-0 lifetime against the North Siders.

However, that seems to be the only bad news as far as today's game goes. Despite the fact that Maholm is 4-0 against the Cubs, it comes with a career ERA against them that's just a shade under 5. Plus, in his last start, the Astros made him their bitch to the tune of 10 runs in just under 3 innings of work. Meanwhile, Jason Marquis seems to be pitching as well as he has all season (knock on wood). In his last 10 starts, he's 5-2 with a respectable 3.96 ERA over that time (It's respectable because the first 4 of those starts were against the Reds, Phillies, the Rockies in Coors, and the Mets before they sucked as hard as they do right now).

I'm calling it a Cubs victory, but for some reason, it seems like it'll be a nail biter until the very end. My prediction: Cubs 5, Pirates 4.

Game 2 - Rich Hill (9-8) vs. Zach Duke (3-7)
Rich Hill was pretty craptastic in his last start against the Pirates, going 6 innings and giving up 6 runs. But I think Hill is going to use that as motivation to pitch well. He seems like the kind of dude that will step up to the pressure and perform phenomenally. Anything less than a perfect game will be a disappointment in my mind.

Zach Duke? Sucks.

My Prediction: Cubs 4, Pirates 0

Game 3 - Zambrano (16-13) vs. (Gorzelanny)
Let's face the facts here: Zammy has sucked total balls since he got his big, fat, sweet payday from the Cubs. I can't shake the feeling that he's going to get lit up again in this game. I see Fat Z giving up 6 runs in 5 innings.

However, not all is lost. Like OJ Simpson on a coke bender, I predict the Cubs will go all gangbusters on the Pirates today, breaking into their hotel room after a wedding and stealing their collective will to live. By this time, I fully expect the Brewers to have lost to Tim Hudson and John Smoltz back to back, giving the Cubs a decent sized 3.5 game lead in the division. This, combined with the fact that the Pirates will be confused by playing 3 day games in a row, will ignite the Cubs' bats and carry us through Zambrano's terrible start. Hell, Fat Z may actually hit a home run. Thunder Matt will hit 7 of them. Mark it down.

Plus, Tom Gorzelanny looks like Sloth from The Goonies.

My prediction: Cubs 14, Pirates 6

Seriously, I feel great about the Cubs' postseason chances. The Brewers don't have another day off for the rest of the year, we get to play the Marlins for our next series, the Braves have enough pride to play the Brewers hard over the next 3 games, and Milwaukee has to finish up against NL West power San Diego for 4 games to finish the season, with the Padres fighting for a division crown.

In the meantime, talk to Lou Piniella about the Cubs' chances for the postseason.