A capsule look at Cubs pitchers

A capsule look at Cubs pitchers

Posted by Bruce on Tue, 10/06/2009 - 19:49
Last time out, we went up and down the Cubs' roster of position players and looked at each guy, trying to unearth a nugget here and there. The most interesting I found was the Kosuke Fukudome had just 9 hits against left-handed pitching. Speaking of pitching, let's do the same thing for the Cubs' main pitchers this year. LHP Ted Lilly: Teddy Ballgame supplanted Carlos Zambrano as the ace of the starting staff by going 12-9 with a 3.10 ERA. Lilly ranked fifth in the NL in WHIP (walks plus hits per 1 inning pitched), at 1.05. The leader was Arizona's Dan Haren, at 1.00. Lilly missed time with knee and shoulder problems or else he might have won at least 15 for a fourth straight year. Nuggets: Lilly walked just 36 while striking out 151. The 4.19 K/BB rate was the best of his career, and it ranked him fourth in the NL. Lilly had a flyball rate of 50.6, and when the wind blows in at Wrigley, those balls stay in the yard. Speaking of Wrigley, Ted was 8-2 with a 1.87 ERA on the North Side. RHP Carlos Zambrano: After seasons of 13, 16, 14, 16, 18 and 14 wins, Big Z dropped to 9-7 with a 3.77 ERA this year. And no, the Cubs are not trading him this winter. Big Z had 17 quality starts. His WHIP rose from 1.29 last year to 1.38 this season. He'll spend much of his time this winter in Chicago, and you'd think the trainers would be able to keep a close eye on his conditioning. I look for a bounce-back season next year from Z. Nuggets: Zambrano was 2-5 with a 5.03 ERA at home and 7-2 with a 2.73 ERA on the road. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play; league average is around .300) rose from .277 last year to .308 this year. With time on the DL, he threw his fewest pitches in a season since 2002. RHP Ryan Dempster: Last year's ace dropped from 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA to 11-9 with a 3.65 ERA. He went hard down the stretch to reach 200 innings, becoming the only Cubs pitcher to do so. Nuggets: Dempster's WHIP rose from 1.21 last year to 1.31 this year. His BABIP was very low for much of last year before topping out at .280. It went up to .307 this season. Dempster enjoys 10-5 rights, which means the Cubs need his permission to trade him. RHP Randy Wells: A couple of bad starts late probably doomed Wells' Rookie of the Year chances, but he was the most pleasant surprise on the team this year. He led the starters in ERA, at 3.05, and his 1.28 WHIP was second to Lilly on the Cubs among starters. Nuggets: Wells had a groundball rate of 47.9. He struck out a career best 10 in his final start of the season. His longest losing streak of the season was 2, and he was adept at making the necessary adjustments. RHP Rich Harden: The Cubs still are uncertain whether they'll offer free agent Harden salary arbitration this winter. I'd say it's 30-70 they do so. Harden was 9-9 with a 4.09 ERA. He made 26 starts, which says a lot for the work pitching coach Larry Rothschild and the trainers did to keep Harden's historically bad shoulder healthy. But the Cubs might have thought about giving him an extra day of rest more than they did. Nuggets: Harden struck out 10.91 per 9 innings, second on the team to Carlos Marmol. He was shut down after his Sept. 16 start, when he went 3 innings. Before that start, he went 4, 5 and 5 innings respectively. LHP Sean Marshall: Anybody remember that he started the season in the rotation and made 2 quality starts? He figures to be a swing guy again next year, depending on what the Cubs do this winter. He's also one of the few realistic major-league trading chips the Cubs have. He'd likely be part of a bigger package. Overall, he was 3-7 with a 4.32 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP, up from 1.27 last year. Nuggets: Marshall's line-drive percentage rose from 16.6 to 23.3 while his flyball rate dropped from 42.2 percent to 27.9 percent. Perhaps more line drives caused a rise in his BABIP, from .288 to .319. RHP Aaron Heilman: When the dust from a couple of trades settled, the Cubs were without reliever Michael Wuertz and with Heilman. Laboring in obscurity in Oakland, Wuertz was 6-1 with a 2.63 ERA, an 0.95 WHIP, 102 strikeouts and 23 walks. Heilman was 4-4 with a 4.11 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. He’s arbitration eligible. Will the Cubs tender him a contract? Nuggets: Heilman was a better second-half pitcher, with a 3.82 ERA compared with 4.32 in the first half. He has pitched in at least 70 games four straight years. LHP John Grabow: He looks to be GM Jim Hendry’s top priority as far as re-signing Cubs free agents goes. Would the Cubs go out any more than two years? The Cubs got him from the Pirates in a July 30 trade, and he helped the Cubs down the stretch. Overall, he was 3-0 with a 3.36 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. Nuggets: Left-handers hit .222 vs. Grabow while righties batted .238. He had a 6.94 ERA in September. At Wrigley, his ERA was 3.27. RHP Esmailin Caridad: The Cubs like his live arm and his versatility. He’ll be in the mix for the bullpen next year after going 1-0 with a 1.40 ERA with 3 walks and 17 strikeouts in 19.1 innings. Nuggets: Caridad, whom the Cubs signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, pitched in Japan that year, getting into 2 games for Hiroshima. RHP Jeff Samardzija: The Cubs hope Samardzija turned a corner in September after a fix-up stint in Iowa, during which the Cubs worked to smooth out his mechanics. The Cubs see Samardzija competing for a starting job in spring training. He finished 1-3 with a 7.53 ERA and a feverish WHIP of 1.76. Nuggets: After giving up no homers in 27.2 innings last year, Samardzija gave up 7 in 34.2 this year. LHP Tom Gorzelanny: GM Jim Hendry was glad to take Gorzelanny from the Pirates in the Grabow trade after Gorzelanny spent time in the minors. Overall, he was 7-3 with a 5.55 ERA. With the Cubs, he was 4-2 with a 5.63 ERA. He’ll be in the rotation mix next spring. Nuggets: He made just $433,000 this year. He had a 7.63 ERA at Wrigley. RHP Angel Guzman: The Cubs admitted to being extra cautious with Guzman down the stretch, when they shut him down early with triceps soreness. In his first full big-league season, Guzman was 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA and a WHIP of 1.05. Nuggets: Guzman held opposing hitters to a .192 average, and his BABIP was .207, with a 47.9 groundball rate. RHP Kevin Gregg: This one didn’t work out so hot, and Gregg will be allowed to walk as a free agent. What seemed to bother manager Lou Piniella more than anything were the 13 home runs, not to mention the 7 blown saves out of 30. Nuggets: Gregg’s HR/9 innings rose from 0.39 to 1.70 this year. His flyball rate went from 35.4 to 44.3 while his groundball rate went from 44.8 to 38.0. RHP Carlos Marmol: When Marmol gets the ball over the plate, he’s hard to hit, as evidenced by the 43 hits allowed in 74 innings. However, getting the ball over the plate has been the problem, as he’s over thrown that slider at time. He walked 65 and hit 12, watching his WHIP go from 0.93 last year to 1.46 this year. He heads to spring training knowing he’s the closer, so that may be a good thing for him. Nuggets: Marmol’s BB/9 innings expanded from 4.23 last year to 7.91 this season. He gave up only 2 homers this year, compared with 10 a year ago. Others: Justin Berg (54.1 groundball percentage) will get a good look in spring training. Of the 131 pitches he threw this year, 95 were for strikes…David Patton took up a roster spot much of the year as a Rule 5 pick. The Cubs can send him to the minors next year…Jeff Stevens is the first of three pitchers the Cubs got from the Indians for Mark DeRosa. Stevens walked eight and struck out nine in 12.2 innings.
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