Here's this week's chart. The Padres series is a four-game wraparound series, so I included next Monday too. The off-day on Thursday will be the Phils' last until Thursday, August 11.
This isn't shaping up to be the easiest of weeks for the Phillies' lineup. Only one of the seven opposing pitchers (former Phil Rodrigo Lopez) is clearly below-average, and as we saw in 2009, even Lopez is capable of putting some good outings together now and again. There are no Elih Villanuevas in this bunch. Luebke and Stauffer, in particular, have been revelations for the Padres. You might recall that Luebke gave up a game-winning RBI double to Ryan Howard early this year in a game at Petco Park when he was still in the bullpen, and at the time his ERA was over 7. But that ERA was misleading, and in general he's been really great all year long.
Of course, the fact remains that these two opponents have the second- and third-worst records in the NL, so don't get too discouraged. The Cubs' fatal weakness is their crappy bullpen, which is probably the worst in the league. They've got Carlos Marmol (who, it seems, is only having a so-so year), Sean Marshall, and not much else. It's absolutely imperative that the Phils hitters work the count against the Cubs' starters to get them out of the game as early as possible. The Padres' fatal weakness, meanwhile, is their awful lineup.
Other random comments:
- Nearly all of the Cubs' pitchers' ERAs are way worse than their DIPS. This suggests that their defense is bad, but UZR doesn't appear to back that up. So it's a mystery.
- I am not looking forward to the Ryan Dempster game on Wednesday. Maybe I'm misremembering, but my recollection from when he and A.J. Burnett were on the Marlins was that they would run deep counts on everybody and the games would take forever. And while I do enjoy watching Vance Worley pitch, he isn't exactly the quickest worker around either.
- Get ready for lots and lots and lots of chatter this weekend about how the Padres series will be a "showcase" for Heath Bell and Ryan Ludwick. It will be annoying.
- Speaking of which, I was surprised to see that Bell's 2011 campaign really hasn't been all that impressive: 3.02 FIP, 3.97 xFIP, 3.83 SIERA. Caveat emptor, Ruben.