Cubs taking swings against cream of the crop

Cubs taking swings against cream of the crop

LOS ANGELES -- The Cubs got a breather Wednesday, when they didn't have to face a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher. That break won't last long.

The Cubs are in a stretch in which they will play Cy Young Award winners in four of five games. It started with the Dodgers' Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, and it will continue Friday when they face Roy Halladay. Cliff Lee starts Saturday.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said pitching this year is much better than years past.

"The velocity in the game is as good as I've seen," he said. "There are plenty of left-handers coming out of the bullpen who are not specialists or side armers, but they're throwing 97, 98, 99 mph. The velocity from starters is way up from what I remember on a consistent basis."

But it's not just velocity that makes the difference.

"They have all this computer stuff, and they can pitch to weaknesses," Sveum said. "Twenty years ago, nobody knew what a guy's weakness really was. Now it's blatant, right on the computer and, 'If you throw this, he's out. If you execute your game plan and execute that pitch, he's out.' It says so on the video."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.