Now that the excitement from yesterday’s win has worn off, I am significantly less ready to face the Pirates.  Here are the matchups for this weekend:

Friday: Jason Marquis vs. Paul Maholm

Marquis is 2-1 with a 2.91 ERA against the Pirates this year, including a complete game shutout–one of only two Cubs games I’ve been to this year–in May.  His last start against them, however, was not so good.  Nate McLouth and Jason Bay kill Marquis; he’s been good against everyone else in that lineup.  Maholm, for his part, is 2-0 with a 5.02 ERA against the Cubs this year.  Lifetime, Maholm has had trouble with Ramirez and Soriano, but that’s it.  I refuse to predict any more games.

Saturday: Rich Hill vs. Zach Duke

Hill is 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA in two starts against the Pirates this year.  His last start against them on September 7th was a disaster.  A lot of Pirates have great career numbers against him; I don’t really feel like listing them here.  Zach Duke is 1000-0 with a o.00001 ERA against the Cubs.  Seriously, I don’t even want to see the numbers.  He kills the Cubs.  OK, I looked at the numbers.  He’s made seven career starts against the Cubs, and six have been quality starts.  His lifetime ERA against the Cubs is 1.57.

Sunday: Carlos Zambrano vs. Tom Gorzelanny

Zambrano is 1-2 with a 3.79 ERA against the Pirates this year.  His last start against them was a thing of beauty.  Sort of.  I refer you to my series preview from earlier this month for information on the Pirates’ hitters career numbers versus Z.  Tom Gorzelanny is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA against the Cubs this year.  Great.

So here’s the deal: only one of these matchups favors the Cubs, and even that is pretty tenuous.  If the Cubs are going to win two of three (or three of three), they’re going to need to find a way to beat Duke, or Z is going to have to step up.  The good news is that the Brewers will probably split at best, so even losing two of three would leave the Cubs up a half game.  But that’s not the way to think about it: for all the Pirates starters’ success against the Cubs, only Gorzelanny is actually a good pitcher.  The Cubs need to beat the other two guys on Friday and Saturday, and then try for the sweep, knowing that if they fail they’ve still done their job in the series.

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