Before the Cubs/Cards series began on Tuesday, I listed a few things I wanted to watch for, related to pitching.
- 1. Did Carlos Zambrano's bullpen session clear him for Houston?
- All the reports I heard on WGN radio were good, that Carlos had good workouts with no issues. The extra rest from the Hurricane Ike situation can't hurt.
Given what I've seen and read of Ike so far, there is good reason to be out of there. I hope folks took the evacuation seriously, and that the damage is minimal. Scary stuff.
- 2. Was Rich Harden healthy Thursday?
- He was, and pitched a very good game. But, even with the Busch speed bump (also see below in Dempster's section) really only threw about as hard, overall, as he did last time out, and still well below where he was pre-"discomfort".
These charts show speed at 55 feet from the plate, and are not adjusted for park and weather variations. Click to images enlarge.
Each "stripe" here is a start
Take a quick look back at the inning speed for Harden's previous three starts for comparison to this chart.
Each stripe here is an inning.
Towards the end of Thursdays game, he starting throwing almost all off-speed stuff. When he did use the fastball, he dialed it up. Rich's last heater was his fastest.
Given the stark contrast to Harden's last start, where his velocity disappeared, the fact he pitched with a lot of control on a hot night, in the rain, and was able to dial it back up at the end says he was healthy. Plus, there were no strange, lower, release points like last time.
- 3. Did Ted Lilly rebound from his disastrous start against the Reds?
- Yes, to put it mildly. Lilly pitched a great game, only 90 pitches to get through eight innings. Lou pulled him so Kerry Wood could work the 9th, and it was not fun. Pujols doubled, Ludwick homered and Woody barely escaped with the save.
Lilly's eight innings included no walks, five hits and just one run - on a ground out by Pujols. He also struck out five Redbirds.
Lilly liked his slider on Wednesday. Big time.
Keep in mind, that slider is really some type of slider/cutter combo or mix or slutter type thing.
Looks like Lilly was dropping down a little bit with it, too. The average release points for the circle change (CH) and curveball (CU) are pretty meaningless, given the extremely small samples.
- 4. Was Ryan Dempster strong?
- Overall, Dempster is keeping his velocity up and appears to be handling the starter's workload without difficulty. He may even be throwing better as the season goes on.
Looking at this chart - every pitch (except a couple below the lower threshold) in PITCHf/x going back to 2007. His St. Louis start is a couple ticks higher than his last Chicago start, which is the normal pattern for Wrigley and Busch.
Zooming in on Ryan's pitch speed, by inning. I'm only going back to the beginning of August here.
Seems that Dempster maintains his velocity pretty well, no alarms.
Let's go start-by-start for Ryan's last three appearances.
Pretty impressive for a closer.
- 5. Did Tony LaRussa use Chris Carpenter or Jason Motte as his closer?
- No, and, now, Carpenter was probably shut-down for the season. Meanwhile, Motte came as advertised - fast, but lacking movement. I'll refer you to the pre-series post for more on Motte.