Starting pitching, offense continue to be Cubs concerns
While all the focus the last few days has been on the Cubs' closer situation, it must be noted that they have plenty of other problems, too.
Starting pitching would be one.
A lack of a consistent offense would be another.
Both were in full force the last two games against the Florida Marlins, a 13-3 defeat Saturday and a 7-5 decision Sunday.
The Cubs have been waiting and waiting and waiting for Randy Wells to put together some good starts and maybe even get himself a victory.
They'll keep waiting.
Wells gave up 3 runs in the first inning Sunday as Greg Dobbs hit a 2-run homer and Hanley Ramirez hit a monster solo shot that nearly cleared the bleachers in deep left-center.
"Obviously, the changeup has been very inconsistent," said Wells, who has not won a decision since April 4 and who has an ERA of 6.71.
"The sinker's been very inconsistent. I started off a lot of guys 2-0 instead of just challenging guys. It's just trying to be too fine instead of going after guys and cutting it loose."
Wells missed two months with a right-forearm strain, and he did settle down after Sunday's first inning. Since he came back in early June, he has had only 1 quality start.
"He's nowhere near where we want him to be," manager Mike Quade said. "I thought he was better after the first inning, particularly his slider. His overall consistency is still a ways away."
The Cubs scored 3 runs in the bottom of the first inning and took a 4-3 lead in the second.
But after starting the bottom of the second with 2 hits, the Cubs did not get another basehit until Aramis Ramirez's two-out RBI double in the eighth.
Speaking of Marmol:
Mike Quade said pitching coach Mark Riggins continues to work with embattled closer Carlos Marmol, but Quade said Marmol will have to do the heavy lifting himself.
"Ultimately a player has to get himself back along with help from his coaching staff," Quade said. "But he needs to understand what he's looking at and needs to understand when he's looking at video what his keys are.
"It's one thing if I understand and they (coaches) understand, but he needs to be able to fix himself. Sometimes pitch to pitch.
"That's the other thing. It's one thing to have an overall approach to getting yourself better. But he's got to make adjustments on the mound pitch to pitch, and there's nobody to help him do that but him."
Here come the Phillies:
It doesn't get any easier for the Cubs, who welcome the Phillies and ace pitcher Roy Halladay on Monday night. Tough lefty Cliff Lee goes for the Phillies on Tuesday.
"I believe we were the only team to score on Lee in June," Mike Quade said. "These guys are good. I enjoyed being around them and listening to them during the All-Star Game.
"It is a heck of challenge. We have some guys on this club who have had some success against Halladay. So we're hoping to put a bunch of those guys together and find a way to score some runs off him.
"They've got a great record for a reason. Their starting rotation has a lot to do with that, that's for sure."