Northside For Life

Monday, April 17, 2006

Questions answered. Sort of.

Right now the Cubs pitching staff consists of a crafty veteran who is aging like fine wine, a talented young hothead who isn’t on top of his game at the moment, and three question marks- two young ones and a journeyman. Those three question marks were the starting pitchers during the Cubs’ three game series with the Pirates. Granted the Pirates are once again terrible and the Cubs seem to have the deed to PNC Park because they own the Pirates there, but these three put in some solid performances.

Marshall was pretty impressive Friday night, giving up 3 in 5 innings before being pulled- an inning or two too early in my opinion- for Michael Wurtz who promptly crapped the bed. Williamson came in and was lights out for the next two innings. Wurtz’ performance was good enough to earn him a bus ticket back to Iowa. I didn’t see much of Marshall’s start save for his final inning of work, but I did listen to first few innings of the game on the car radio and he seemed to be doing quite well. The thing I like most about Sean Marshall is his poise and composure on the mound. He doesn’t carry himself like a rookie and it shows in the way he pitches. A pleasant surprise in the rotation to say the least.

Another pleasant surprise was Jerome Williams’ performance on Saturday. He gave up only 1 ER in 6 innings and kept the walks to a minimum, something that his killed him in the past. A great outing by Williams, who’s standing was kind of iffy after a horrible spring training. Yet another Ronny Cedeno throwing error (great arm, shit for aim) and Freddie Bynum’s loafing around in right allowing for a double to be turned into a triple contributed to both Pirate runs. Zach Duke seemed like the second coming of Sandy Koufax and the Cubs could only plate one run in the loss. It was a bit of a tough one to swallow, but at least it appears as if Jerome will do just fine.

Sunday’s starter was the biggest question mark of all – G Unit Rusch. He’d gotten bombed his last two starts against the Nati, but against the Pirates he was on point, cruising through the first five innings without giving up a run, warning track fly balls, or a ton of walks. He did give up a three run bomb to Craig Wilson but it was still a vast improvement over anything else he’s done so far this year. I figured he’d bounce back against the Pirates, now it remains to be seen if he can continue to deliver solid starts.

Despite their solid performances, I’m not so sure these questions marks have been answered yet. Williams has looked good in relief and in his one start and that’s very encouraging. Marshall is young and doesn’t have a whole lot of experience, but he’s got moxie and good stuff and has been pretty decent in his two starts. I need to see more from him before deciding if he’s legit or if he needs more seasoning in Iowa. But as of right now the future looks bright for Sean. G-Unit, well I’m not to sure about him. A couple more good starts might be needed to keep him in the rotation. Once Wood and Prior come back (God I’m really starting to hate that phrase) only one of these three is going to stick around as a starter. As of right now I’d go with Williams over Rusch and Marshall.

Other notes from the series in the Steel City:

-Todd Walker continues to silence doubters with his bat. The guy has been on fire at the plate and he hasn’t really been bad in the field. Although I don’t really mind the arrangement Dusty has now, with Walker getting most of the starts, I’d have him in there for the vast majority of starts, regardless of who’s pitching. It’s also worth mentioning that the Cubs are 4-0 when Walker’s in the lineup. Go with the hot hand Dusty.

- It’s a shame about Angel Pagan and his knee/hamstring injury. Just when he got his big break, made it to the show, and was starting to make a name for himself on the Cubs. This injury could very well put him out for the year. A damn shame.

-What’s the deal with Pittsburgh fans booing A-Ram and cheering after he got beaned? The guy was traded three years ago. I don’t get it.

- Speaking of A-Ram, he had a nice game yesterday, going 2-4 with a homer and three ribbies. Hopefully he’s starting to get out of his funk.

- And hopefully Lucky Pierre gets out of his as well.

- I’m also hoping we don’t see too much more of Freddie Bynum.

- One of the parks on my short list of parks to visit is PNC. It looks awesome on TV and I’m sure its even better in person. It’s a shame they have such a beautiful park in the Pitt and they have such a shitty team play in it. Oh well, at least they have the Steelers.

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