So, it's been a while since the Cubbies were in town. And for those Cubs fans who are old enough to have been alive back then, well, those were better times. The last time they played in Fenway, the Cubs just needed to win two straight to become World Champions. But they lost that game and now, 93 years later, that title still remains elusive to Chicago's NL team.
Now the Cubs are headed back to Fenway to start interleague play and, at 19-23, things aren't looking great for 2011, either. The good news for Chicago is that they may have a decent shot at winning the series since, after Lester, the Sox are going to have to rely on Alfredo Aceves and Tim Wakefield. The bad news for Chicago is that they don't have the greatest bunch of hurlers to send out there themselves.
Friday, May 20, 7:10 p.m.
If five innings meant anything, then Jon Lester may have met his match in Doug Davis and his 2.01 xFIP.
But it doesn't, and so Davis' five innings of one-run ball against the Giants don't really do anything to change the fact that he's a typical back end of the rotation guy over his career--an NL one at that--and is quite prone to bouts of wildness; a trait which the Red Sox are typically more than happy to take advantage of.
He does tend to keep the ball on the ground a decent amount of the time, which could save him some trouble in Boston, but his infield doesn't really have the defensive chops to take full advantage.
Jon Lester, onthe other hand, is Jon Lester. The only question is if May is the new April, as has seemed to be the case in his last two starts. Oh, and if he can quiet a cubs lineup which has quite a few hitters who can kill lefties.
Saturday, May 21, 7:10 p.m.
Alfredo Aceves vs. Carlos Zambrano
The days of Carlos Zambrano being a lock-down ace seem to be gone. No, sorry Cubs fans, but 2010 was not a sign of his revival, it was just a blip, as his 4.27 xFIP would attest to. He's still a serviceable pitcher in the NL, but his sudden jump in fly balls is not going to serve him too well in Fenway Park.
The question for the Red Sox will be how long Alfredo Aceves can be effective. Before going three innings against Baltimore, Aceves had been limited to very short outings since his 67 pitch performance on May 6 against the Twins. When he's been allowed to throw a good number of pitches, he's been fine, but when he's twice actually started games in the minors, the results have been less than impressive. The Sox do have a surprisingly robust bullpen this season, but they can't really afford to empty it with Tim Wakefield going the day after.
Sunday, May 22, 8:05 p.m.
Tim Wakefield vs. Ryan Dempster
The good news for Tim Wakefield is that not a lot of the Cubs have seen much of the knuckleball. The bad news for Wake is that Carlos Pena and Alfonso Soriano certainly have, and on any given night, it's pretty much a coin flip anyways. Can Wakefield shut the Cubs down? Sure. Can he also give up eight runs before getting five outs? Definitely.
Ryan Dempster is a bit more conventional pitcher, though his results so far have been anything but. About the only thing that hasn't been great about Dempster's season so far has been his ERA, which I expect is kind of important to the Cubs. He gets ground balls, but one in five flies leaves the park. He gets strikeouts, but when he doesn't it ends up being a hit far too often. And God forbid he walks someone, because quite a few of the men that reach base end up scoring. Hopefully he keeps going bad against the Sox, but results like this can only last so long.
OK, so I'm crazy and it's Matt Garza, who tends to kick our ass.