Dennis Hobein. 9th May, 2005 - 6:28 pm
After a 7 game losing streak, which saw 3 straight losses in the 9th inning, the Cubs are hoping to build some momentum after their 2-1 victory over the Phillies. Manager Dusty Baker has opted to take Ryan Dempster out of the starting rotation and give him temporary closing duties. Latroy Hawkins simply does not have what it takes to succeed in the closing role, and putting him back in the set-up role is probably an over-due move. The Cubs are lucky to have 3 off days in the next two weeks. This will afford them to go with a 4-man rotation, while Kerry Wood rehabs from shoulder tendonitis.
The bullpen is still a major weakness, however, as witnessed by Dusty Baker allowing Carlos Zambrano to throw 130+ pitches in his start against the Phils. Saying there is a ?lack of confidence? in the bullpen right now is quite an understatement. Baker would have sent Zambrano out there for the 9th if his arm was hanging by a thread.
Although it is still early in the season, this is clearly an important stretch for the Cubs. They are currently 6 games behind the Cardinals in third place, and if they slide any further behind than that, it will be time to think ?Wild Card? for Cubs fans. The Cubs continue on against the National League East this week, with 3 at Wrigley against the Mets, followed by 3 against the Nationals in D.C.
If the Cubs don?t make a run soon, look for the Cardinals to run away with the Central again. A season that started off with much promise is slowly slipping away for the Cubs and their fans. Doesn?t that sound familiar?