The Cubs have a very solid top of the rotation but they will need a #4 and #5 starter to emerge until Ted Lilly gets healthy. I have a feeling that 28-year old righty Carlos Zambrano is going to have a great bounceback year in 2010 for the Cubs. He started 28 games for the Cubs last season in which he was 9-7 with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. Look for Zambrano to be really focused as some of the media and fans were getting on him last season despite him pitching o.k. Look for around 15-17 wins with 200+ K’s in 2010 out of Zambrano.
32-year old righty Ryan Dempster will be the #2 starter for the Cubs in 2010. He really pitched pretty well last season but not quite as good as in 2008. Dempster started 31 games for the Cubs last season and he was 11-9 with a 3.64 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. In two years as a full-time starter for the Cubbies, Dempster has started 64 games in which he is 28-15 with a 3.30 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. There is absolutely no reason to think that Dempster won’t have another solid year for the Cubs in 2010.
34-year old lefty Ted Lilly would be the #3 starter for the Cubs in 2010 if he were healthy. He will likely start the season on the D.L. with shoulder issues. They need him big time so they hope he isn’t out too long. Lilly started 27 games for the Cubs last season and he was 12-9 with a 3.10 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. In his three years with the Cubbies, Lilly has started 95 games in which he is 44-26 with a 3.70 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. Lilly is about as dependable as starters come so the Cubs need his recovery to be a quick one.
27-year old righty Randy Wells came out of nowhere last season and he was probably the second best starter on the team (next to Ted Lilly). Wells started 27 games for the Cubs last season in which he was 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. There are a lot of “experts” who are thinking that Wells will regress some. After all, he has pitched in 184 games (82 starts) in his minor league career in which he is 43-26 with 6 saves, a 3.75 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.
27-year old lefty Tom Gorzelanny will likely be the #5 starter for the Cubs this season. Gorzelanny pitched in 22 games (7 starts) for the Cubs and Pirates last season in which he was 7-3 with a 5.55 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. Gorzelanny has a nice upside as long as he is throwing strikes for the Cubbies.
30-year old righty Carlos Silva will likely get a chance to start some games for the Cubs this season until Ted Lilly comes back. Silva pitched in 8 games (6 starts) for the Mariners last season and he was 1-3 with a 8.60 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP. In his last two years, Silva has pitched in 36 games (34 starts) for the Mariners in which he was 5-18 with a 6.81 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. The Cubs are hoping that a return to the National League will inspire Silva to pitch decent but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.
25-year old righty Jeff Samardzija is kind of a longshot to win a job in the rotation. He pitched in 20 games (2 starts) for the Cubs last season and he was 1-3 with a 7.53 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP. He got hit around pretty good last season with the Cubbies giving up 46 hits and 7 homers in 34 2/3 innings last year. Samardzija also pitched in 18 games (17 starts) in AAA-ball last season and he was 6-6 with a 4.35 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE STARTING ROTATION IN 2010: B