Despite Rich Hill's disastrous two-thirds of an inning start on Friday, the Cubs' bullpen is actually in good shape heading to Cincinnati.
Thanks to Jon Lieber's three-and-two-thirds innings on Friday, and Carlos Marmol's two innings on Saturday, the whole bullpen was available for Sunday night's finale. Except Marmol, for obvious reasons.
Even though Jason Marquis was wild and not very effective, he did make it into the sixth inning. Sean Marshall cleaned up that inning, and Sean Gallagher worked the last two frames before the Cubs were retired in the ninth, trailing by two.
Jon Lieber has moved into the rotation, and will get a start against the Reds. Look for Gallagher to continue to hold down the long-relief spot, while Scott Eyre's impending return could shuffle things around some more. Marshall or Gallagher stand to lose their roster spot.
Eyre has worked three shut-out innings in relief for the Tennessee Smokies. Allowing just one hit and striking out three, he's been able to work a full inning each time out. Today's outing came in the eighth inning of a 5-4 loss to the Jacksonville Suns.
Heading into Cincinnati, the Cubs are going to face Johnny Cueto, Aaron Harang, and Edinson Volquez.
The first two games will be under the lights, with Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano going for the Cubs. Lieber is slated to face Volquez in the matinée on getaway day.
The Cubs miss out on Matt Belisle and Bronson Arroyo. Actually, Belisle could be gone by his next turn—and Homer Bailey could be the next piece of the Reds' youth movement. Jay Bruce, anyone?
Johnny Cueto has been crashing back to earth. The Cubs will need to make hay against the struggling rookie tomorrow before hitting the meat grinder on Tuesday.
Harang is far better than his 1-4 record would indicate (but you know better than to even pay attention to W/L, right?). The staff ace is still giving up less than one home run per nine innings, and has a spiffy 41:11 K:BB ratio in 48-and-one-third innings.
Volquez is just a few months short of 25 years, and has dominated since arriving in the Josh Hamilton deal. Yes, the Cubs are to blame for this guy being in their own division. He started to look a little better last year (he got just 20 games under his belt, three in relief, in his first three seasons), but is killing the NL in 2008.
I'll get down to PITCHf/x stuff tomorrow evening. Doug Gray has all sorts of Reds f/x stuff, including a recent post on a changeup featured by Volquez.