This might not be the best time for the Cubs to come to town. Chicago has won five straight in getting out to a 6-3 start, and a talented lineup led by Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome is clicking on all cylinders. Worse, the Phillies--whose own offense has badly under-performed through the early going--face Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano in Friday's series opener. The Big Z is 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA and 12 strikeouts versus one walk through two starts, and has handled the Phillies through his career: 3-2, 2.79 including three wins in his last three tries against them.
The Phils counter with struggling starter Brett Myers, who has turned in a pair of rough five-inning performances in his return to the rotation. Myers has pledged to be more aggressive against Chicago, a team he has fared well against in his career (5-3, 2.56, two complete games). With just six strikeouts in his first ten innings, Myers has not looked like himself thus far.
It's not clear whether Jimmy Rollins will test his ankle in the starting lineup Friday. Rollins struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance against Billy Wagner Thursday night; his replacement, Eric Bruntlett, went 1 for 10 in two starts against the Mets and is well on his way to claiming a place of dishonor in the pantheon of Terrible Backup Infielders of the Manuel Era, alongside Tomas Perez and Abraham Nunez. Except that those guys generally could field, at least.