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Cubs Are On Track
It seems as though all of the writers that counted the Cubs out just a month ago are back to realizing that they are going to the playoffs. I always find it amazing how Peter Gammons always changes his tune when he realizes he is wrong and then act as if that's what he had been preaching the whole time. The key will be Mark Prior. If he pitches the way he did in his last start it will be nearly impossible to beat the Cubs. More important is that he threw over 120 pitches and didn't look tired one bit. With that said, Matt Clement has appeared to lose his for and has been batted around quite a bit.
Assuming the Cubs make it to the Playoffs, they should go with a 3 man rotation:
My reasoning for leaving Prior out of this is that he can be a long-relief guy for all three starts and then make the game a 5-6 inning game rather than a 7-8 inning game for the starter. This will keep everyone fresh. Then maybe Clement can rest up his shoulder and maybe make a later playoff start.
Another issue that I keep seeing in the stretch run is Dusty Baker resting his star players and the front end of double headers. When a team is vying for a playoff spot the last thing he should do is bench the best hitters on the team, in particular Aramis Ramirez who has been hitting out of this world of late. The Cubs got by in the first game despite the terrible managing of Baker with key games from Jose Macias and Todd Walker. On the other hand, Paul Bako left four men on base that could have proved costly. I know its sad when you wish you could see Mike DiFeliece behind the plate.