April 18, 2009

Stack-o-Cards -- 4-18-09 -- v Cubs

How do the Cardinals stack up against the Cubs?

With the four-game series with the Cubs knotted at a game apiece, starter Kyle Lohse will match up against the Cubs' Ryan Dempster in a Saturday afternoon matchup at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The game will be nationally televised on FOX.

Probable pitchers:

  • STL-Kyle Lohse RHP (2-0) ERA 1.13

  • CHC-Ryan Dempster RHP (1-0) ERA 4.50

Cardinals vs. Dempster
Last season, the Cards went 12-for-44 against the Cubs righthander, scoring only a couple runs and notching only one extra-basehit, a double. Dempster walked three Cards while striking out seven.

The Cards were able to steal three bases off Dempster.

The Cards' LH hitters did well against Dempster, hitting .353, while the Cards' RH hitters fell short of two-hundred at .189.

At Busch Stadium in '08, the Cards accumulated five hits, two of them by ex-Cards Aaron Miles and Felipe Lopez. Ryan Ludwick and Albert Pujols tallied a hit each versus Dempster. Skip Schumaker did the best against the Cubs' righty, going 2-for-4.

There were more Cards' hits versus Dempster at Wrigley Field last season, but five of a dozen came from players are either no longer with the Redbirds or are currently with an affiliate. Cesar Izturis did well at 2-for-5, with Adam Kennedy, Joe Mather, and Nick Stavinoha.

Only three '08 Cards hit up Dempster at Busch: Yadier Molina grabbed a hit, Ludwick faired well, going 2-for-5, and Schumaker was outstanding at 4-for-7.

It would seem Cards' skipper Tony La Russa would load up on lefties where possible, with Schumaker most likely to play second base and bat lead-off. (The lineup was not yet available at the time of this posting.)

Ludwick would seem a shoe-in, although a righty stick, his past success versus Dempster and recent power surge makes him hard to deny. That leaves three lefty hitters for two outfield spots. Chris Duncan is just too hot to pass up. Choosing Rick Ankiel or Colby Rasmus to roam centerfield, both lefthanded hitters, might force TLR to think longer to select what he believes is the better fit versus the Cubs' righthander and/or versus the Cubs in general.

My guess is that TLR will go with Brian Barden at third base, even though Joe Thurston is a logical choice considering lefty-righty batting. Barden is simply too hot to ignore, and TLR rightfully keeps the "hot" player on the field, letting them "bat out" their streak. Having Barden start isn't a bad idea, certainly, and it hurts nothing to have Thurston in the wings to pinch or even replace Schumaker in the very late innings, and then, only if Schumaker is not due at bat. (Schumaker has the best numbers against Dempster.)

If TLR wanted to force both Barden and Thurston in the lineup, he would have to allow Barden to play shortstop again, but that isn't likely as Khalil Greene had the previous game off, save a game-ending pinch hit into a double play. Greene has been consistant enough at the plate to make today's lineup.

There's no rest for Molina or Pujols while the Cards are in the Windy City, and especially when the rivalry is being carried nationwide on FOX.

Cubs vs. Lohse
Lohse only faced the Cubs at Busch Stadium last season, where the Cubs went 23-for-76, hitting .303 against the Cardinals' currently 2-0 righthander.

The only Cub that hit Lohse that isn't around right now is Mark DeRosa, who went 2-for-4 last year.

But there are plenty of Cubs around that added to their batting averages, including Dempster, Mark Fontenot, Kosuke Fukudome, Reed Johnson, Derrik Lee, Ted Lilly, Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, and Ryan Theriot. Of those, the Cardinal-killers (or Lohse killers, anyway) were: Lee 4-for-9; Soto 3-for-8; and Theriot 5-for-10.

Lohse walked a couple Cubs per game, and totalled 11 strikeouts, but tended to give a lot of extra-basehits: a half-dozen doubles, two triples, and a couple round-trippers.

The odd stat about Lohse versus the Cubs, however, is his splits. Cubs' lefthanded hitters all but failed to show up at .182 while the righthanded hitters roughed him up a bit at .352. Makes one wonder how Cubs' manager Lou Piniella will pencin in his lineup today; he may have to resort to TLR tactics and shake things up.

photo by Barbara Moore

How do you think the Cards stack up against the Cubs today? Feel free to comment.