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Cubbies Finally on A Roll And Zambrano Back to the Rotation

Rockies Cubs BaseballLast night, Carlos Silva got another quality start, pitching six innings and allowing two runs to drop his ERA to 3.35 and improve to 5-0 on the season.

On a night when we learned that Carlos Zambrano will be returning to the starting rotation shortly, a different Carlos was able to steal the show by pitching six scoreless innings before allowing a two-run home run without recording an out in the seventh and being taken out.

After going 2-9 in an 11 game stretch, the Cubs have been able to pull off three strait wins after taking the finale against the division rival Pittsburgh Pirates and sweeping a two game series against the Colorado Rockies. Read the rest of this entry »

News and Notes From Spring Training

chi_u_lilly_576Sorry for the three-day delay with posts, there is just very little going on. With that in mind, I will try to squeeze out whatever stories are happening and give you some updates on the Cubs.

Here are a few stories that have happened over the past few days.

Aramis Ramirez returns to the diamond

Ramirez has missed some time this spring because of a sore right tricep, but he returned on Tuesday against the Royals as a DH and went 2-3 with an RBI. He hasn’t played since March 13th, but he looked like he hadn’t missed any time in his three at bats. Read the rest of this entry »

Position Breakdown: Starting Pitching

Randy WellsThis is going to be the first in a four part series breaking down four positions for the Chicago Cubs.

Part one is going to be break down the Chicago Cubs’ pitching, after this article I will be taking on the infield, outfield and bullpen.

The Cubs have been known for having solid starting pitching, and this season should be no different. Here is the expected rotation:

1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Ted Lilly
3. Ryan Dempster
4. Randy Wells
5. Tom Gorzelanny
Others who could start games: Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Silva. Read the rest of this entry »

Halfway to Houston: Cubs Fifth Starter Spot Still Up in the Air

Pat DeMarco is a new writer for The Daily Cub. He will bring some more experience and insight to The Daily Cub.

With just about half of spring training behind us, I thought it would be a good time to look at the Cubs battle for the No. 5 starter’s job.

The battle for the final starting pitcher’s job is turning into a great battle between Sean Marshall and Aaron Heilman. About a month ago, I wrote an article stating that Heilman won’t succeed as a starter.

Heilman is doing everything to prove me wrong. The 30-year-old has given up just one run in eight innings while striking out 12.

I’m not saying that he should win the spot, but his stuff has been electric this spring. That won’t be ignored. Can Heilman be last year’s Dempster? Time will tell.

Sean Marshall has matched Heilman pitch by pitch this spring. The 26-year old is 1-0 this spring with a 1.00 ERA. Marshall has allowed just 6 hits while striking out 5 in 9 innings.

Heilman has been outstanding this spring, but I still believe Marshall will win the number 5 spot. Then again, I also wrote this article 6 weeks ago.

Both Chad Gaudin and Jeff Samardzija have pitched well in spurts, but it’s doubtful that Piniella will choose them over Marshall or Heilman. If this is truly a wide open battle then Heilman and Marshall are clearly ahead of Gaudin and Samardzija.

It’s very difficult to get a read on players during spring training. That said Marshall and Heilman look like they’re in mid-season form. Marshall is doing a great job of changing speeds and turning his pitches over.

Heilman’s slider is very sharp this spring, and his fastball seems to have much more pop then years past. Both pitchers are keeping the ball down and throwing strikes. That’s a very difficult thing to do in the thin Arizona air.

This great battle for the No. 5 starter’s job will come down to the wire. I give the edge to Sean Marshall but not by much.

-Pat DeMarco

Spring Training is Here! Now When Does Regular Season Start?

There are 38 days and six hours from the time of writing this article until Opening Day for the Cubs against the Houston Astros, and even longer before the Cubs play at Wrigley Field, as their first two series are on the road against the Astros and Milwaukee Brewers.

But for now, we have only the first two Spring Training games to talk about, so lets take a look at what we have.

The Cubs were able to take the first Spring Training game against the Dodgers (wonder how that got scheduled) by the final of 5-3, however, pitcher Jeff Samardzija gave up two runs, both in his second and final inning of work.

“Actually, I felt a little better in the second inning,” Samardzija said. “It’s funny how that works. You make some decent pitches and get out of an inning one, two, three, and then you make some good pitches and give up a couple runs.”

Also in the game, Micah Hoffpauir hit a grand slam and Cubbie hopeful Mitch Atkins gave up one run and three hits over two innings.

In the Cubs second Spring Training game, they took down the Brew Crew 7-3 in Sean Marshall’s first shot to prove that he can handle the fifth starting spot this season.

Marshall gave up one run on four hits in two innings, nothing stellar but not horrible either.

We also had our first Carlos Mamol showing, he pitched one inning, allowing one run and one hit.

Jake Fox, another Cubbie hopeful, started at first base and hit a three-run home run.

Ted Lilly makes his lone Spring Training today against the Rangers, as the Cubs look to continue their perfect Spring Training (maybe not a good thing after the Detroit Lions).

Although Spring Training is a nice warm-up for the regular season, I look forward to, in 38-days, watching the Cubs take on the Astros as the regular season starts.

-Joe Willett

Come to Think of it…Chicago Cubs Bullpen Better Used in Moderation

The Cubs bullpen just isn’t good enough to support starting pitchers who can only go 5-6 innings per start. If a Cubs pitcher goes seven innings or more, and Wood is healthy and throwing well, the combination of Marmol and Wood can usually get it done.

But when a pitcher doesn’t go deep into the game, as was the case today with Rich Harden, there is no way our pen can hold the opposing team down.

First of all, it seems every time Howry comes in he gives up at least one run, usually a home run. Maybe they released the wrong guy in Eyre today. Perhaps it should have been Bob Howry.

Of course, add to the misery the fact that Carlos Marmol went through a really bad stretch from June through mid-July.

And Kerry Wood had been unable to pitch since July 11 because of a blister, until today.

Even Chad Gaudin has been unreliable. So who is left?

Well, the answer is few bullpens are good enough to support a short staff. Here’s how the Cubs rotation has performed over their last 10 starts:

* All Cubs starters have averaged just over 6 innings per start, except Rich Harden who has averaged exactly 6 innings since joining the Cubs and Carlos Zambrano, who has averaged just less than 7 innings per start.

But when a starter goes less than six is when we notice the problems in our bullpen.

Here’s how Cubs relievers have performed over their last 10 appearances:

* Bob Howry has been scored upon in five of his last 10 appearances
* Kerry Wood, Carlos Marmol and Chad Gaudin each have been scored upon in three of their last 10 appearances
* Sean Marshall has been scored upon in six if his last 10 appearances
* Neal Cotts has been scored upon in only two of his last 10 appearances

Incidentally, Scott Eyre, released today, had given up runs in four of his last 10 appearances, in case you were wondering. Couldn’t they have sent Marshall to Iowa and kept the veteran Eyre? It’s obvious Marshall isn’t pitching well anyway.

Well, at least the Cubs won today, though once again a relief pitcher (Howry) got a win he didn’t deserve. Of course, Harden can’t just blame the bullpen today as he wasn’t at his best, forcing more from the pen than what they are capable of. Come to think of it, some things are better in small doses.

-Bob Warja