Dempster vs. Lilly matchup falls flat


Dempster vs. Lilly matchup falls flat

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 5:22 p.m.
By Patrick

Ryan Dempster stood alone on the mound and rubbed his eyes and adjusted his hat. It was almost as if he couldnt believe what he was watching.

Rod Barajas had just deposited an 85 mph slider into the left-center field seats, a game-tying homer in the sixth inning. The Cubs certainly didnt see this coming. Their Opening Day starter now has a 7.63 ERA.

Hes done it for too many years, manager Mike Quade said. You believe hes going to get himself back in sync.

Saturdays pitching matchup between Dempster and Ted Lilly didnt really live up to the hype. Ultimately, the Cubs came back to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-8. But competing against one of his best friends didnt exactly bring out the best in Dempster.

Dempster threw three sliders that wound up in the bleachers and was charged with seven runs on nine hits. A 5-1 lead evaporated on his watch. Hes now given up eight home runs in 30.2 innings this season.

The good news for Dempster was that Lilly didnt pitch any better.

I wish we both could have hadwell, actually, I dont really wish (Lilly) had better results, Dempster said. I wish I could have done a better job, but at the end of the day, we won the game, and thats all that matters. Its about Ws for our team.

Lilly didnt know what sort of reaction hed get at Wrigley Field. In the end, there were no loud cheers or boos, just a kind of indifference.

The buzz should have been back 63 degrees and sunny for a marquee opponent. There was a standing-room-only crowd of 41,161 and Arcade Fire singing the seventh-inning stretch.

The response wouldnt have really mattered, because Lilly was always harder on himself than everyone else. But as Lilly walked off the mound in the fifth inning, the fans essentially shrugged their shoulders.

Lilly never lit up the radar gun, but found a way to survive by changing speeds, creating angles and locating his pitches with pinpoint precision. But this time he didnt get by with guts.

Across the past four seasons only two pitchers in the National League Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain accounted for more quality starts than Lillys 84.

That reliability helped Lilly win many friends in the Cubs clubhouse, but its a changing place. Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney who were unknowns when Lilly signed that 40 million contract in the winter of 2006 essentially stole the show.

Combined the new middle-infield combination went 7-for-10 with six RBI and four runs scored. They chased Lilly, who gave up five runs on 11 hits and lasted only 4.1 innings.

They bring a lot of energy, especially at the top of the lineup, Dempster said. They bring a different aspect we havent had in the last couple years speed.

At times like this, Dempster leaned on Lilly. They drove each other to get better. Now its time to go back to the drawing board.

Im just going to continue to work hard (and) push through this, Dempster said. Ive been there before and Ill be there again.

Patrick Mooney is's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Ozzie Guillen compared Sammy Sosa to Michael Jordan...and Michael Jackson

Ozzie Guillen compared Sammy Sosa to Michael Jordan...and Michael Jackson

Ozzie Guillen is no stranger to saying outlandish things.

So it's not surprising that Guillen would agree with Sosa when the former Cubs outfielder said he made the city of Chicago what it is today.

Thirteen months ago, Sosa gave a candid interview to Chuck Wasserstrom and compared himself to Jesus before saying: "When nobody knew who Chicago was, I put Chicago on the map."

Guillen echoed that sentiment on the latest White Sox Talk Podcast.

Maybe from where they sit, that's exactly what has occurred. Sosa and Michael Jordan certainly helped make the Cubs, Bulls and Chicago sports in general on the map internationally.

"People know who the Cubs were because Sammy put them back on the map," Guillen said. "... For the city of Chicago, when Sammy was Sammy — that race with [Mark] McGwire, then people noticed what Chicago was."

Ozzie said — from his perspective — when people hear about Chicago, they ask, "Oh, you know Sammy?" or "You know Michael?" referencing Michael Jordan.

Guillen also weighed in on Sosa's ever-changing appearance that has sparked A LOT of attention lately.

"But the color, I'm tired. I think he uses the same product Michael Jackson did," Guillen said. "It's funny because I work with him — we talked to him a lot for ESPN Deportes. When you're lying, that's when people don't get it.

"Listen, if you want to change your color, why not? You got the money, you got the time if that's what you want to be. But if you say, 'Well, I got too much color because of the sun when I was playing.' OK...You live in Miami, you grew up in the Dominican. To me, I just laugh."

Scouting the Cubs' competition: Will the Nationals finally win it all before Bryce Harper leaves?


Scouting the Cubs' competition: Will the Nationals finally win it all before Bryce Harper leaves?

The expectations couldn't be any higher for the 2018 Chicago Cubs. 

It's 2016 all over again. The goal isn't just a trip to the playoffs or another NL pennant. It's World Series or bust for this group of North Siders.

With that, let's take a look at all of the teams that could stand in the way of the Cubs getting back to the Fall Classic:

Washington Nationals

2017 record: 97-65, 1st place in NL East

Offseason additions: Miguel Montero, Matt Adams, Joaquin Benoit, Matt Reynolds, Jeremy Hellickson, Tommy Milone

Offseason departures: Adam Lind, Stephen Drew, Jose Lobaton, Jayson Werth, Matt Albers, Oliver Perez, Joe Blanton

X-factor: The health of their stars

Health is an X-factor for any team, but it carries more weight in D.C. than anywhere else in baseball.

Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Stephen Strasburg are three of the Nationals' best players and yet three guys that can't seem to stay healthy for a full season. Couple that group with leadoff hitter Adam Eaton and Daniel Murphy coming off knee injuries, the health questions are running rampant in Washington.

Those are the Nationals' projected Top 4 hitters and No. 2 starter. If they all stay healthy, they'll put up some whopping numbers. But if history repeats, it will make the road quite a bit tougher despite a weak NL East.

Projected lineup

1. Adam Eaton - LF
2. Trea Turner - SS
3. Bryce Harper - RF
4. Anthony Rendon - 3B
5. Ryan Zimmerman - 1B
6. Howie Kendrick - 2B
7. Matt Wieters - C
8. Michael Taylor - CF

Projected rotation

1. Max Scherzer
2. Stephen Strasburg
3. Gio Gonzalez
4. Tanner Roark
5. A.J. Cole


When healthy, this may be the most talented roster in the NL. Harper, Rendon, Murphy and Turner could all wind up as serious contenders in the 2018 MVP race while Scherzer and Strasburg figure to garner some Cy Young votes once again.

The Nationals also have the advantage of a pretty rough division, at least on paper. Three teams are rebuilding and the Mets haven't made the playoffs in a couple years now. Getting to play 18+ games against all four of those teams is a godsend.

Which is good news for a Nationals fanbase that is absolutely starving for some actual postseason success. Wade Davis and the Cubs knocked Washington out last fall and 2018 represents what figures to be the final chance to win it all (or even win A playoff series) with Harper before he gets a $400 million deal elsewhere (like Chicago??).

The 2018 Nationals have no holes. If any of their starters falter, they have Hellickson available. If any of their position players struggle, they have depth in the form of Kendrick (once Murphy is healthy), Montero, Adams, Wilmer Difo and Brian Goodwin.

And the bullpen is very, very good thanks to a bunch of moves before the 2017 Trade Deadline and also have Benoit and Koda Glover expected to start the season on the DL.

The Nationals will be playing in October this year. But what they do in the postseason is a question that won't be answered for 6 months. 

Prediction: 1st in NL East, playoffs