Wednesday morning, I posted this question at The Cub Reporter:
If the entire Cub season were going to turn on one game–based on the way our starters have been performing lately–who would you choose to start?
The question prompted a good variety of answers and arguments on behalf of just about every pitcher on the staff, relievers included.
I think if I were to ask the question Thursday morning, Ted Lilly, who had been struggling, would get an overwhelming majority of the votes. In part, that's because as Cub fans, we have short memories--I think it's a required defense mechanism--and in part, it's because Lilly pitched very well in the Cubs' 8-2 win.
The lefty scattered six hits and a walk over 6 2/3 innings, allowing just two Dodger runs, one of which scored after Lilly had been lifted in favor of Carlos Marmol. Lilly also broke a string of seven consecutive starts in which he had been touched for at least one home run. Now 14-7, he is just one win short of his career season high, set last year for the Blue Jays.
Up at Miller Park, unfortunately, the Brewers beat the carcass known as the Houston Astros to remain within a half-game of the Cubs. The Cardinals, however, were thumped by the Pirates, slipping two games off the division lead.
The Cubs and Dodgers conclude their four-game series Thursday afternoon, with Jason Marquis going up against groundball-throwin' Derek Lowe. Though Marquis is coming off a terrific start on Saturday against the Astros, this, like the Brad Penny-Steve Trachsel matchup the other night, is one of those pairings that doesn't seem to favor the Cubs.
Note: In the latest Playoff Odds Report at Baseball Prospectus, prepared before Wednesday night's game, the Cubs rate a 46.7% likelihood of reaching the post-season (46.5% chance of winning the NL Central; .2% chance of taking the Wild Card). The Brewers stand at 32.1% to win the Central and .25% for the Wild Card. The Cards are at 21.4% to win the division; .1% for the Wild Card.