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A win for the Rockies ensures that they will keep the third overall pick over the Cubs, while a loss restores hope for those few that really, really want pick number two.
With the rain shortened win yesterday, the Rockies passed the Cubs in winning percentage. With only eight games remaining in the 2012 season (thank the maker), the closest thing to a battle we have to end the season is whom between the two teams will find themselves behind Houston on the draft sheet next year.
Starting for the Cubs will be Jason Berken, a former starter for the Orioles that had been converted to setup relief in 2010. The 28 year old right hander spent most of the season with the Norfolk Tides, Baltimore's AAA team, where he had returned to starting. He was recalled for a short time in May, making one difficult relief appearance for Baltimore before being sent back down. Berken was claimed off waivers by the Cubs early in September after the Orioles designated him for assignment to make room for more September callups.
This will be Berken's third start in a Cubs uniform. So far, he has had two fair outings for Chicago, and is coming off a start against Cincinnati in which he threw six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out five. Berken's game resembles a lot of the pitchers I've had to scout for game threads this year: he's susceptible to the hit and does not have especially spectacular walk or strikeout rates, though neither is particularly disastrous either. Berken is the kind of pitcher you want the Rockies offense to be able to get to. Berken has never faced the Rockies before, as either a starter or in relief, with only Jason Giambi having seen him before.
The Rockies send Drew Pomeranz to the mound in what will probably be his penultimate start this year, unless the Rockies choose to mix up the rotation on the final road trip, and if Pomeranz has another weak start today, he would very much be a candidate to miss his final start if they're looking for an opportunity to start someone else. After a good start to the month, Pomeranz' last two stars have been very poor, allowing eight runs over six innings between the two of them. He also walked five batters in his most recent start, a season high for the lefty.
One thing that has been unfortunately common between both his more and less effective outings is the infamous inefficiency that has plagued our young pitching staff this year. Even when Pomeranz was pitching more effectively early in the month, he was lucky to last four innings. Even with the pitch counts still lower than normal, most Rockies pitchers have found their way into the fifth at least a couple times. Pomeranz has pitched into the fifth just once since July, and that game happened to come against these Cubs in Chicago on August 24th. Pomeranz, not unlike his opponent, has demonstrated a vulnerability to the hit this year, and while he is better at striking out batters than Berken, he also struggles more with the free pass.