Cubs-Nationals: What To Look For In The Upcoming Series

Alex KanteckiContributor IApril 26, 2010

If only the Cubs could play the Milwaukee Brewers every day.

The Cubs (9-10) exceeded my expectations with an impressive sweep of Milwaukee over the weekend and flip-flopped places with the Brew Crew in the NL Central.

They move to 5-1 against the Brewers and second in the Division.

Optimism is back on the North Side, and the Washington Nationals (10-9) come into town to kickoff a seven-game home stand starting today.

The Nationals have been playing over their heads in the early going, so the Cubs shouldn’t take them lightly.

Last season, if you recall, the Cubs used a four-game sweep against Washington to briefly retake first place from the St. Louis Cardinals after the All-Star break.

Then they stumbled in the final two months.

No matter what happens this time around, let’s not get too high or too low.

There’s a lot of season ahead of us.

Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals

Pitching match ups are subject to change.

Monday, April 26: Silva, Carlos (2-0, 0.95) vs. Lannan, John (1-1, 5.82)
Tuesday, April 27: Gorzelanny, Tom (0-2, 2.40) vs. Hernandez, Livan (2-1, 0.75)
Wednesday, April 28: Dempster, Ryan (2-0, 2.60) vs. Atilano, Luis (1-0, 1.50)


On the Mound

Everyone is talking about Carlos Silva’s surprising start to the season, so let’s give Tom Gorzelanny a good look this week.

He’s the only Cubs starter without a win so far, but it’s not because of anything he’s done on the mound.

Errors by the Cubs defense have denied Gorzelanny two possible wins already, including his last start against the Mets when he struck out seven.

Let’s help him out with the glove this week.


Trade Speculation

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggested this past week that the Cubs could be looking to deal Gorzelanny for a setup man.

With Lilly back in the rotation, it makes sense.

I still can’t see the Cubs keeping Zambrano in the bullpen for more than a month. He’s too valuable to waste for one inning per outing.

The Cubs and Jim Hendry would most likely turn their attention to San Diego.

Closer Heath Bell and strikeout extraordinaire Luke Gregerson could be available—with Bell more likely to be traded by the July deadline. Both would be definite upgrades.


At the Plate

Looks like Lou Piniella’s outfield platoon is working out just fine in the early going.

Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, Kosuke Fukudome, and Tyler Colvin all have an OPS over .900. In other words, these guys are collectively raking.

What I like is that Piniella is sticking to his word and rotating these guys on a regular basis.

Stick with the plan, Lou. Don’t send the kid down.


Who’s On Second?

Both Mike Fontenot (44 at-bats) and Jeff Baker (37) have been getting equal at-bats and playing time so far, but I think it would be best to let one guy take the lead role.

Fontenot is batting .295 and Baker is at .216, but the latter has a lot more upside.

Both have three RBI, but Baker also has two home runs and nine runs—compared to zero and three for Fontenot, respectively.

It’s time to take a stance.


Series Prediction

Cubs, 2-1

Coming off an impressive sweep of Milwaukee at their house, the Cubs have a great chance to keep the streak going against a Nationals team performing well above expectations.

The Cubs could be on the verge of making a run here, but I’m not willing to give the team the benefit of the doubt yet—they’ve been far too inconsistent.


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