Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Outrage! Ted Lilly NOT chosen as Cubs number two starter

Gene "Copy/paste my last name because it's crazy" Wojciechowski loves him the Ted Lilly. So much in fact that he insists he should be the number two starter for the Cubs in their upcoming playoff series, not Carlos Zambrano.

I'm fine with this, they're pretty close. It is sure to be an interesting, level-headed article filled with facts and numbers about why Lilly should be number two.

Just kidding.

Wojo is so indignant and provides no facts - beyond the "Zambrano is crazy!!!!!!1111!!1!!!" - that it makes me angry.

But the numbers speak for him, and right now they're saying the Cubs are taking, at best, a calculated risk by pitching him second in the NLDS rotation. At worst, they're risking another mound meltdown and depriving the more consistent Ted Lilly of his rightful place in the No. 2 spot. ... On performance alone, the rotation should be Dempster, Lilly, Rich Harden and then Zambrano. Instead, it's Dempster, Z, Harden and then Lilly.

But other factors could be at work here, beginning with Zambrano's pride.

And ending with numbers.

Cubs pitchers by VORP:

Dempster (57.5), Z (35.7), Lilly (35.3), Harden (28.4)

It could also be that the Dodgers OPS .50 points higher (.769 to .716) against lefties - the handedness of which Lilly happens to be. Or that Lilly gave up 1.41 HR/9 innings this season and owns the dreaded "fly ball pitcher" tag. Or that Lilly has worse LD/GB/FB percentages - career and this season - than Zambrano.

No, it's that Zambrano is a prideful jerk who beats on innocent Gatorade jugs while screaming at Lilly as he reads "The Tao of Pooh."

Zambrano has been the Cubs' Opening Day starter in each of the last four seasons. He was the Cubs' Game 1 NLDS starter a year ago and made three playoff starts in 2003. A little more than two weeks ago he threw the first Cubs no-hitter since 1972.

But the flip side is this: He's never won any of those four Opening Day starts (5.57 ERA in 21 innings). He's never won any of those four postseason starts.


Let's check those postseason starts:

'07 - 6IP/8K/1BB/4H/1ER

'03 - 16.2IP/12K/5BB/25H/10ER

OK, so he did kind of stink in '03. But that '07 start? Come on.

Oh and while we're there, Ted Lilly is a playoff ace:


And the good ones were with the A's (9IP/7K/1BB/2H/0ER) four seasons ago.

Since his Sept. 14 no-hitter he's given up 13 runs and allowed seven walks in 6 1/3 innings. Since the All-Star break his ERA has more than doubled (from 2.84 in the first half to 5.80 in the second half) and his win total has decreased by more than half (10 in the first half, four in the second). It's also the first time in the last six seasons that Zambrano hasn't reached the 200-innings pitched mark.

He threw 188 innings. 200 is a pointless benchmark. Lilly, that workhorse, threw 204. 16 inning difference or like 2-3 starts. Criminal he isn't starting in the two hole.

So, yes, the numbers scream something.

They're relatively close and it's a judgement call?

I tell Lilly that Zambrano's antics sometimes make me want to jump off the Sears Tower. The tantrums drive me crazy.

Do tell, Wojo, where the line between "competitor" (Jeter) and "thrower of tantrums" (Z) is? Because from my point of view, it's nowhere.

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