The Cubs spent a lot of money on Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis but it’s up in the air as to whether they will get positive results for their money. 25 year old righty Carlos Zambrano is the rock of the Cubs rotation. He was 16-7 with a 3.41 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP in 33 starts last season. He’s a super aggressive pitcher who whiffed 210 batters in 214 innings last season but he’ll need to cut down a little bit on his walks (115) if he wants to compete for the Cy Young in 2007. Zambrano is highly dependable as he’s thrown over 200 innings in each of his last 4 seasons and he’s 59-32 for the Cubs over that span. He also swings a good bat as he’s a career .212 hitter with 10 homers in 330 at bats. Look for Zambrano to win 15-19 games with a ERA in the low 3’s with 200+ strikeouts. He will be a finalist for the Cy Young Award.
31 year old lefty Ted Lilly hit the jackpot when the Cubs signed him to a big, long term contract. He was 15-13 with a 4.31 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP in 32 starts for the Blue Jays in 2006. Lilly will need to cut down on his walks if he’s going to be worth the money because Wrigley Field is an unforgiving place in you put batters on base without earning it. Look for Lilly to win 12-15 games with an ERA of around 4.50 in 2007. One thing for Cubs fans to worry about is the fact that Lilly has never pitched over 200 innings in a season over his 8 year career.
27 year old lefty Rich Hill looks like he’s going to be a good one for the Cubs. Hill was 6-7 with a 4.17 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 17 games (16 starts) in 2006 for the Cubs. Batters only hit .227 against him and he whiffed 90 batters in 99.1 innings last year. Hill will need to keep the ball down as he allowed 16 homers last season and that’s a little bit too many. Look for Hill to win 13-16 games for the Cubs this season with a sub-4.00 ERA and a lot of strikeouts as long as he stays healthy.
The Cubs gave 29 year old righty Jason Marquis a huge three year contract to pitch for them. He was 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in 33 starts for the Cardinals last season. In his defense, Tony LaRussa left Marquis out there on the mound to take a few beatings for the team to save the bullpen last season. Marquis has averaged 14 wins and over 200 innings in his last three seasons and that’s what the Cubs are really paying for. Look for Marquis to win 12-15 games with an ERA of 4.25-4.75 in 2007.
It looks as if 30 year old righty Wade Miller will be the #5 starter when the season starts for the Cubs. Miller was 0-2 with a 4.57 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP in 5 starts for the Cubs last season. The Cubs didn’t take much of a risk as they aren’t paying Miller much to see if he’s healthy. Miller has only started 36 games the last three seasons in the majors, but from 2001-2003 he was outstanding for the Astros. During those three seasons Miller was 45-25 for the Astros. If Miller is healthy he will pitch well enough to keep Mark Prior in the minors.
26 year old righty Mark Prior has really fallen on hard times. He was 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP in only 9 starts for the Cubs last season. Prior will likely start the season in AAA to try to rebuild his arm strength as he’s been just throwing in the mid-80’s in Spring Training. Prior gave up 9 homers and walked 28 batters in only 43.2 innings in 2006 and those numbers are scary bad. Don’t expect much from Prior in 2007.
24 year old lefty Sean Marshall was 6-9 with a 5.59 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in 2006. Marshall wasn’t overwhelmed in the majors but he’ll likely start the season in AAA ball and await a call by the Cubs. He allowed 20 homers and walked 59 batters in 125.2 innings and he needs to cut down on those numbers to become a decent major league starter. With the brittle nature of some of the Cubs starters he could get another chance at some point in the season for the Cubs.
24 year old Carlos Marmol was 5-7 with a 6.08 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP last season for the Cubs. His problem isn’t his stuff as he only gave up 71 hits in 77 innings for the Cubs. His problems are that he allowed 14 homers and walked 59 batters which is quite incredible. Look for him to start the year in AAA as he has only pitched 2 games there in his minor league career.
24 year old righty Juan Mateo was 1-3 with a 5.32 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP in 11 games (10 starts) for the Cubs in 2006. The Cubs had to rush Mateo because of injuries to the rotation last season. Look for Mateo to start the season in AAA ball which is a level that he hasn’t pitched at yet.
25 year old righty Angel Guzman was 0-6 with a 7.39 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP in 15 games (10 starts) for the Cubs last season. Batters ripped him for a .308 batting average and 9 homers in only 56 innings last season. Expect Guzman to spend most of 2007 in AAA ball for the Cubs.