With seven pitchers fighting for four spots, you would think the Cubs are in a great position to form a solid five. Then again, let's look at who coming February 15th by the stats of 2006.
These players include Carlos Zambrano, Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall, Wade Miller, Mark Prior, Rich Hill, Jason Marquis, and Ted Lily. Also waiting in the bullpen: Carlos Marmol, Juan Mateo, and the questionable Neal Cotts.
Carlos Zambrano is the Ace. In 2006, Big "Z" was 16-7, with an e.r.a. of 3.41. He had 33 starts and pitched 214 innings. 115 base on balls to 210 strikeouts. He gave up 162 hits, 91 runs(81 of them earned), and 20 home runs. He is our work horse. Seldom gets injured or complains of a sore arm. By the start of the season the Cubs payroll should be about 312 million dollars, after signing him to a one year deal. Holy Cow!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As of now, Ted Lily is my number two pitcher. He's really more of a three/four, but not here. In 2006 with the Blue Jays, Lily was 15-13 in 32 starts. He threw 181 innings with an e.r.a. of 4.31. 179 hits with 98 runs, 87 of them earned. His base on balls to strikeout ratio was 81-160. He gave up 28 home runs and could sky-rocket at the friendly confines.
So who are the third, fourth and fifth starters? This is what camp will determine. The next guy to pitch more than 150 innings is Jason Marquis, followed by Sean Marshall at 125 innings and then Rich Hill at 99. Prior and Miller hardly pitched, and Guzman was 0-6 in ten starts. All these guys e.r.a. was between 5 and 7.4, with Rich Hills' 4.17 being the best.
This is a mystery. Cubs gave up the most walks, but struck-out the most batters, and owned the third worst e.r.a. in the N.L. Nothing will get easier for these guys.
Right now you have to have Marquis and Marshall fight for the third spot. Rich Hill and Mark Prior will compete for the fourth spot, and Miller and Guzman get sent down to AAA, unless Guzman sits in the pen for a while, which should be unlikely.
Maybe Prior and Miller have a great spring training and we have little to worry about. Perhaps Rich Hill (who can finally locate his fastball), becomes an ace, getting to the 15 win mark. High hopes and optimism folks. That's all the Cub Fans have. This is the last year for Prior, Miller, and Marquis, if they can't stay on the field. I doubt very highly that Wade Miller is ready to pitch 150 plus innings anyway. Sean Marshall could be on his way to a trade if he becomes mediocre at best. Then the Cubs will have more time for Mateo, Marmol, and Guzman.
I'll talk about the bullpen in a later blog, probably by the weekend. There are only so many pitchers the Cubs will carry, so I expect 100% out of these guys to make the five. I see some spot starters for sure in that fifth spot. No way everybody succeeds or stays healthy.
It all starts this Thursday Cub Fans!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, right now, if I was Lou and Larry, the staff looks like this.
1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Ted Lily
3. Rich Hill
4. Jason Marquis
5. Sean Marshall.
With more certainty, I would have Prior and Miller in, replacing Marshall and Marquis, but.............................................you know.