The Cubs are going for a sweep today against the Astros, just as they were last series against the Mets. The Cubs lost that game 17 to 1.

  • Dale Sveum credits an improved and more heavily used fastball with Carlos Marmol’s recent string of effectiveness. Sveum, you’ll recall, was the one saying Marmol needed to start throwing his fastball more as far back as the second week of the season. Marmol has finally received the message, and it’s paying off. “There’s no question [the fastball has helped],” Sveum said. “He’s throwing his fastball in the strike zone. If he doesn’t, it’s just missing and he’s able to come back and do some things. He’s still going to throw his slider, but his fastball is still going to be very important to be able to throw, especially the velocity. Hitters see 94, 95 [mph] and it speeds them up.” To me, Marmol just looks more “in control” of himself these days. He’s still a little wild, but it doesn’t look like he has *no* idea where the ball is going. Since coming off the DL in late May, Marmol has thrown 11.1 innings, striking out 16, and posting a 3.97 ERA.
  • Chris Volstad will indeed be called up to get the start on Tuesday, in place of demoted Randy Wells (who was pitching in place of injured Ryan Dempster). Volstad, 25, went 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA after starting the year with the big club (he really did look good in Spring Training…). Frequently the victim of the big inning, Volstad simply couldn’t put together a single start that you’d call a great one, and he was sent to Iowa to work things out. There, he’s put up a 4.44 ERA over eight starts, which really isn’t all that bad. He has a 3.42 K/BB ratio, which is his best since rookie ball. Who knows? Maybe Volstad pulls a Travis Wood, and comes up having figured some things out.
  • Ryan Dempster threw off flat ground again yesterday, and won’t take to the mound until tomorrow. Apparently he still feels well, but obviously there’s no sense of urgency here. Dempster isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break. He did pull it together enough to bowl at Kerry Wood’s charity event earlier in the week, though. (He appears to be bowling lefty, which is how I suspect he was protecting that injured right lat. Unless Dempster always bowls lefty, that is.)
  • GM Jed Hoyer spoke yesterday about newly-signed prospect Jorge Soler, but didn’t offer a whole lot in the way of telling or sexy quotes. “He has a ton of power potential for us,” Hoyer said. “We scouted him heavily. Obviously, it’s a significant commitment for us, but we feel he fits very well into what we want to do – he’s the right age, right talent. We’re excited to finally get him started.” Okey dokey. As noted yesterday, Soler will head to Arizona for a Spring Training-like session before being assigned to a team (beyond the rookie league team in Mesa, where he might play some games). We probably won’t see him in Boise or Peoria for a few weeks.
  • Ok, so Hoyer did say a little bit more about Soler, as a player. “I think you’ll be really impressed when you see him physically: a huge, huge person, a very big man,” Hoyer said. “Right now, he moves really well. We’re going to start him out in right field. Could he end up moving at some point? He could because he is that big. But he has huge power and it’s hard to find power in today’s game and that’s a big part of why we’re willing to make that kind of commitment is that it is hard to find power. He’s just a huge guy with bat speed and has always generated a lot of power.” Soler is about 6’3″ and 210/22o lbs.
  • Hoyer also said that surgery is likely in the offing for injured third baseman, Ian Stewart. “Yeah, I think it’s a strong likelihood is a strong way to characterize it,” Hoyer said of the possibility of surgery. “He may be able to avoid it but to this point we have tried to exhaust every option to avoid it and it may well end up with surgery. It’s been frustrating for Ian and frustrating for us.”
  • Matt Garza gave the shaving cream pie to the camera yesterday, and apparently it was not well-received. He had interrupted Bob and Len’s interview with Anthony Rizzo, and they did not sound too impressed. Shrug. It was kind of funny.
  • Brett Jackson, having heard Dale Sveum’s comments about his alarming strikeout rate, spoke to Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register: “Obviously I’ve been striking out too much, so I’m cutting down on my swing and trying to be more of who I am,” Jackson said. “I was trying to be someone probably greater than who I am, and who I am is a player I think can help a team win, with the speed I have.” We’ll see if there’s a change going forward, and whether it negatively impacts his power game.
  • Andrewmoore4isu

    Gosh this rotation is going to be brutal without garza and dempster. How’s zambrano doing this year

    • Shawon O’Meter

      Big Z’s last 4 starts:

      16IP 20H 14ER 18BB 2HB 12K

      In summary, that’s 40 base runners in 16 innings and an average of 4 innings pitched per outing. More amazingly, he has thrown 361 pitches during this stretch. But then again, this is a small sample size.

    • rcleven

      Zambarno:15 starts. 89.2 innings. 37 ER. .371 ERA 1.34 Whip
      Right around career numbers.

  • Cubs Dude

    I could be off, but I felt like Marmol threw a ton of breaking balls yesterday and leaned heavily on the off speed stuff. I am not sure what Sveum is talking about. Which wouldn’t be the first..

    • Carew

      Marmol did exactly what he should. Threw the fastball early and struck the guy out with that slider. His one walk was a 3-2 fastball that just missed. He is definitely throwin the fastball a lot more

      • Cubs Dude

        I must be mistaken because I felt like he was throwing breaking balls early in the count, and the only difference from bad Marmol was him throwing off speed stuff for strikes.

        • Carew

          It is possible that i missed some pitches haha. Overall he has been diggin the fastball more and more

          • willis

            He was probably 50-50 yesterday. I’m not sure if he’s using it more by a noticeable amount, but he’s being more aggressive with it. He’s much more confident out there. Looks different from what we saw last year at times and the first few weeks of this year. Pitching with a purpose instead of just throwing and not knowing where the hell the ball is going.

            I think the fastball is standing out to us because he’s got more command of it, the velocity is up and it’s plain been more effective.

            • Scotti

              Velocity is the key here. Earlier (and late last year) his velocity had slowed to 90-92. That is likely due to the fact that he had thrown more pitches than any reliever in baseball for three years in a row (from both over use and his high avg pitch per batter). Throwing too many sliders can also take the spring out of your arm. Now, after some rest and a commitment to the FB, he is back to nearly where he was when he was dominant (he’s topping out at 95/96 where it was 96/97 before). The extra spring in his arm can be seen in the sharpness of his slider too. Much more snap to it. He’s always pitched backwards (slider in FB counts) and probably always should. But he needs to keep his velocity up and his arm fresh.

  • gratefulled

    I for one would love to see Garza and the shaving cream pie go by the wayside. It’s extremely tired and it does interrupt the post-game interview. I remember the Shark giving an interview during a national televised game and Garza was throwing sunflower seeds at him the whole time. You are NOT that good and it is NOT that funny, Garza. What a f@cking twerp. Grow up or go join the circus.

    • Cubs Dude

      Agree on the shaving cream thing. That has been way over done at this point, not very funny anymore.

  • Bric

    Probably the most frustrating part about Marmol is Svuem is like the 5th coach now to tell him to throw more fastballs and use his slider only when appropriate and to learn how to set it up better.

    Lou, Rothchild, Quade, Riggins, have all been down this road already and I’m probably forgetting a couple more (such as Suttcliffe, Brenly, Maddux and other retired guys with longer, more successful careers) have all talked about pitch selection with him and yet the guy never seems to get it for more than a couple of weeks at a time. Not a good thing for a closer, which be definition should be reliable and able to do the same thing over and over- save games.

    • Joshua Edwards

      I had a similar thought yesterday and then my buddy pointed out: he didn’t consistently struggle until last year, and Quade never pulled his chain. Plus, he had no real competitor for his closer job. And it’s hard to convince someone who’s had (remarkable) success that they need to change or do anything different.

      But Dale didn’t care about any of that. And I think the new era of accountability means he couldn’t keep throwing Marmol into the fire when he was pitching bad, even if the team was already going to lose 100 games. At least Sveum pulled him and said to throw the fastball or enjoy Des Moines.

      I think Marmol got a taste of something he hasn’t had in a while: a coach he has to listen to.

  • Spencer


  • Spencer

    Stewart tweeted a lot about his injury last night. He’s worth a follow.

    • @cubsfantroy

      Yeah he is, and he converses with the fans. I’ve talked to him a couple of times. He is a nice guy.

  • Glotzbach

    What other position could he move to? Just keep him in RF.

  • rocky8263

    I’ve attended all of Kerry Woods fundraisers and Dempster is as advertised. Just a fun guy. He always wears his Woody Harrelson Kingpin outfit. The guys you’d expect to have big personality’s do like Garza, Dempster, Zambrano in previous years, Pena last year. Marmol in previous years always seemed to stay by himself but this year was wearing a big multi diamond bracelet and diamonds in each ear.Must have a new lady dressing him.Might just be his English is better and is more comfortable.Geo is a cool guy and turned down the weed I offered him. Mongo got me smashed on too many Jack Daniels sharing Bears stories and charming the ladies. The music was too loud for a decent conversation and T.Ricketts was fun to watch dancing by himself to LMFAO. Got a picture with Theo but no conversation. Everyone seemed to have enough to drink and unlike previous years there was no after party. Was hoping to see Dejesus’ wife but no luck.

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