The Long Road to October: Part Three

Josh TollesonCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2009

MILWAUKEE - JUNE 4: Bench coach Alan Trammell #6 of the Chicago Cubs watches a game against the Milwaukee Brewers from the dugout at Miller Park June 4, 2007 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Trammell is serving as manager of the Cubs until Lou Piniella, who was suspended for four games by Major League Baseball after an altercation with umpires June 2 in Chicago, returns. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Thanks for checking out the third installment of "The Long Road of October". In case you haven't read them, check out Part One and Part Two to see how the Cubbies have progressed throughout the 2009 season thus far.

Through 82 games, I have the Cubs record at 47-35. How will the Cubs close out the first half? Will the team suffer throughout the dog days of summer? Lets find out!

July 6 - July 8 (Three Game Series)
Atlanta Braves @ Chicago Cubs

As the summer heat comes to Wrigley, the Cubs bats should be swinging on all cylinders. We may see Tim Hudson back for Atlanta at this point. The health of Chipper Jones will also be important to the Braves at any point this season.

Despite the persistent arms of Lowe and Vazquez, I like the Cubs to handle their business against Bobby Cox.

Prediction: Cubs win two of three

July 10 - July 12 (Three Game Series)
St. Louis Cardinals @ Chicago Cubs

The Cubs won't see their rivals for quite a while after this series, so look for both teams to be out to make statements. Much like the last series, Soriano and Pujols should be swinging hot bats.

Much will depend on the state of the Cardinals pitching staff and bullpen. Will Carpenter be healthy? Who will be closing? At this point and time, it's hard to be confident in their pitching as a whole.

Despite the uncertainty, the Cardinals always bring their best to Wrigley. I like the Cardinals.

Prediction- Cubs lose 2 of 3

July 13 - July 15

July 16 - July 19 (Four Game Series)
Chicago Cubs @ Washington Nationals

Remember the unbelievable diving catch Reed Johnson made in Washington last season? Depending on the play of Fukudome, Johnson could be manning the fort in center come July.

I predict Lastings Milledge will have a solid year, and he'll give the Cubs headaches throughout this series. Many may expect a sweep, but the Cubs could very well have a letdown series following a hotly-contested Cardinal series. I like the split.

Prediction- Cubs win two of four

July 20 - July 22 (Three Game Series)
Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia Phillies

A possible NLCS preview, the Phillies added a solid bat in the offseason, signing Raul Ibanez to fill the void left by Pat Burrell. The Phillies offense will always be potent, but their starting rotation outside Cole Hamels remains to be seen.

Will Lidge be the dominant closer he was last season? I believe so. The Cubs struggled against Philly last season, going 3-4, and were outscored 33-24. Expect a rough outing from the Cubs this series.

Prediction- Cubs lose two of three

July 24 - July 26 (Three Game Series)
Cincinnati Reds @ Chicago Cubs

As the trade deadline looms, expect both the Cubs and Reds to be active buyers leading up to July 31. There's a good chance a debuting player(s) could pop up in this series. Will Jake Peavy be pitching for either club? How about Matt Holiday roaming Cincy's outfield?

Regardless of potential trades, the Cubs pitching will lift the team following their stumbles in St. Louis and Washington. The Reds hot bats may press in Wrigley. I like the Cubs here.

Prediction- Cubs win two of three

July 27 - July 29 (Three Game Series)
Houston Astros @ Chicago Cubs

Houston, we have a problem! The Astros should be hot-sellers at this point. Will Miguel Tejada be dealt? Or would the Astros be willing to trade Roy Oswalt? I think it's a safe assumption that the Cubs wouldn't mind that too much!

The Astros held their own at Wrigley last season, posting a 5-4 record at the friendly confines. If the Astros are out of contention, look for some younger players to get looks in this series. I like the Cubs to sweep Houston before heading to Miami.

Prediction- Cubs win three of three

July 31 - August 2 (Three Game Series)
Chicago Cubs @ Florida Marlins

The Cubbies outscored the Marlins in Miami last season 16-9, which was impressive considering the quality pitching Florida put on the field.

With the warm weather being a factor, expect much of the same this season. The Marlins offense will have another years experience under their belts this season, and should be able to produce more runs. I like the Marlins to take two of three at home.

Prediction- Cubs lose two of three

August 3 - August 5 (Three Game Series)
Chicago Cubs @ Cincinnati Reds

This will be the next to last series between these teams in 2009. Following this series, it'll be over a month until they conclude their 2009 season series.

This will be a crucial series for the Reds, who could very well be contending with the Cubs for the top spot in the divisional standings. Pitching will be key here, and judging by pitching depth and bullpens, the Cubs have the upper hand.

Prediction- Cubs win two of three

August 7 - August 10 (Four Game Series)
Chicago Cubs @ Colorado Rockies

The Cubs offense will be happy to make their annual trip to Coors Field in Denver. There's plenty of questions concerning the Rockies pitching, which can only make the Cubs offense even happier.

The loss of Holiday from the Rockie lineup will be difficult to replace. Expect plenty of small ball. As long as the Cubs pitching performs, the offense will handle the rest. Expect nice series' from Ramirez and Lee.

Prediction- Cubs win three of four

August 11 - August 13 (Three Game Series)
Philadelphia Phillies @ Chicago Cubs

The Cubs conclude their 2009 regular season battle with the defending champs, and for the Cubs, it'll be a welcome sight!

The Reds and Phillies will be the two teams that give the Cubs the most fits in 2009, in my opinion. Luckily for Cub Nation, they'll only play the Fightin' Phils seven times in the regular season. Hopefully they'll fare better against them if they meet in October.

Prediction- Cubs lose two of three

August 14 - August 16 (Three Game Series)
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Chicago Cubs

What better way to get over a tough Philly ball club than to welcome the Pirates into Wrigley. Not to sound too harsh, but the Cubs will come as close to playing a Triple-A ballclub in this series than they will all year long.

The Pirates may flash a few glimpses of hope for their fans, like McLouth or Duke, but the Cubs should manhandle the Pirates here. How sweep it is!

Prediction- Cubs win three of three

August 17 - August 19 (Three Game Series)
Chicago Cubs @ San Diego Padres

The Cubs finally get to head out West to take in beautiful San Diego and Los Angeles. The Cubs could very well overlook this series as the Dodgers will be right around the corner.

The Padres could showcase young talent, but proven talent from Chicago will overcome the youngsters. The Cubs win streak should extend to six, as their pitching and timely hitting will simply be too much for the Padres to overcome.

Prediction- Cubs win three of three

August 20 - August 23 (Four Game Series)
Chicago Cubs @ Los Angeles Dodgers

Unfortunately, the winning streak will come to a halt in the City of Angels. The Dodgers could very well be running away with the NL West at this point. Any way you look at it, facing Manny in LA is never a fun experience.

The Cubs will likely struggle this series as they continue their west-coast swing. The Dodgers shouldn't sweep, but they'll give the Cubs a tough time.

Prediction- Cubs lose three of four

As we stand right now, through 122 games, the Cubs will have a record of 72-52. I think Cub fans would gladly take that record!

I'll conclude the fourth and final installment of "The Long Road To October" later this week. Thanks for reading!



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