CHICAGO – Today’s pitching matchup between the Chicago Cubs' Ryan Dempster (1-2, 6.84) and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Ted Lilly (1-2, 4.09 ERA), a former Cub, is more than just two struggling pitchers trying to find their groove. Not only were those two pitchers arguably the two best starters for the Cubs over the past three seasons, they were also pretty much inseparable.
Dempster and Lilly would go jogging together in the mornings and anyone that spent any time in the Cubs clubhouse came away with the clear knowledge that the two were very close friends. However, manager Mike Quade doesn’t expect the two to be buddy-buddy when the game starts.
“They’re best of friends and they won’t be today,” Quade said about the ultra-competitive pitchers, “which is also something I love about them.”
Though Lilly may be a fan favorite and loved by his former Cubs teammates, Quade made it clear that there was only one acceptable outcome for Lilly in today’s game.
“I love Lil to death, but I hope he leaves here with a very unhappy face,” Quade said with a smile.
Meanwhile, there are much more important issues for the Cubs and Dempster. Earlier in the week, Quade talked about how he expects his top three pitchers, Matt Garza, Carlos Zambrano, and Dempster to all turn it around after slow starts.
Zambrano (8 IP, 10 Ks, 0 ER) and Garza (6 IP, 9 Ks, 0 ER) both complied with Quade’s request in their last outings, and the skipper was hopeful that Dempster would follow suit.
“Every day is a big day, and every day you look forward to a guy getting locked in for weeks on end,” Quade said, “No time like the present. With these three guys, I always expect a good outing and hopefully [Dempster] backs that up today.”
Russell on Tuesday? Quade also discussed his plans for Tuesday’s starter against the Colorado Rockies and while he was hesitant to commit 100% to anyone, he said he was leaning towards lefty reliever James Russell one more time.
However, he said this time he and pitching coach Mark Riggins were going to go about it a different way and not use Russell out of the bullpen in the games leading up to his potential start.
“Let him prepare and maybe change his repertoire a little bit, particularly against right-handed hitters,” Quade said Russell, “Let him do a little work on the side so I’m not messing that up and give him his best chance to be successful.”
Russell is 0-2 in his two starts on the season and while he increased his workload to four innings in his last start (after lasting only 1 2/3 in his first one), he also gave up three home runs in taking the loss against the San Diego Padres.