The Cubs have a deep and talented rotation and it all begins with 27-year old righty Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano started 34 games last season for the Cubs and he is 18-13 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. He is exciting to watch pitch because he gets so wound up during games. Over the last two seasons, Zambrano has thrown 430.1 innings and he has allowed 349 hits, walked 216 batters and whiffed 387 batters. Look for Zambrano to have better numbers this season than he had last year.
32-year old lefty Ted Lilly really stepped up last season as he had the best year of his career. He started 34 games for the Cubs last season and he was 15-8 with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Look for Lilly to have another good season for the Cubs in 2008.
28-year old lefty Rich Hill probably has the best stuff of any starter on the Cubs staff. He started 32 games for the Cubs last season and he was 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Look for Hill to win more games than he did last season as the Cubs appear to have a better team than they had last season.
31-year old righty Ryan Dempster will be moving into the Cubs’ rotation this season. He pitched in 66 games (0 starts) for the Cubs last season and he was 2-7 with 28 saves, a 4.73 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. He has a career record of 59-75 with 87 saves, a 4.82 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. Don’t look for him to hold onto a rotation spot all season long with Sean Marshall and Jon Lieber on the Cubs’ roster.
29-year old righty Jason Marquis will be the #5 starter for the Cubs this season. He pitched in 34 games (33 starts) for the Cubs last season and he was 12-9 with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. Marquis, like Dempster, will have to pitch well to hold onto his rotation spot all season.
38-year old righty Jon Lieber will be the long man in the bullpen at the start of the season but he will be the first pitcher moved into the starting rotation if the Cubs need someone. He pitched in 14 games (12 starts) last season for the Phillies and he is 3-6 with a 4.73 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. Lieber is a better pitcher than Ryan Dempster so look for them to switch roles at some point in 2008.
25-year old lefty Sean Marshall will start the season in AAA-ball but the Cubs won’t hesitate to call him up if they need a starting pitcher in 2008. He pitched in 21 games (19 starts) for the Cubs last season and he was 7-8 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. Marshall will also likely be good trade bait if the Cubs want/need something later in the year.
22-year old righty Sean Gallagher is one of the better prospects in the Cubs’ system. He pitched in 8 games (0 starts) for the Cubs last season and he was 0-0 with a 8.59 ERA and a 2.11 WHIP. He also started 19 games in AA+AAA ball last season and he was 10-3 with a 3.10 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP.
25-year old righty Kevin Hart also could get a look in the rotation at some point in 2008 for the Cubs. He pitched in 8 games (0 starts) for the Cubs last season and he was 0-0 with a 0.82 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He pitched in 27 games (25 starts) in AA+AAA ball last season and he was 12-6 with a 3.99 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE 2008 SEASON: A-