Carlos Zambrano – what in the world are we going to do with you? Big Z is simply an enigma. If somone could work with him to get his head on straight, Zambrano could be one of the best pitchers in baseball. Instead, we get Carlos Zambrano being Carlos Zambrano. The 2009 version – 8-6 record in 25 starts. A good 3.94 ERA, but a startling high 1.43 WHIP. 132 strikeouts in 148+ innings, but also 70 walks. Not the numbers of the ace of your staff, someone who is set to make $18 million per season for the next 3 years. It’s not bad enough that the Cubs are locked into bad contracts with Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley and Kosuke Fukodome. But now we have to worry about how many stints Big Z is going to spend on the DL trying to swing the bat too hard.
Uggghhhh – - it is so frustrating. Last night, the Cubs offense took advantage of a wild Brewers staff – 11 hits, 12 walks, 3 HBP, 2 wild pitches – and took a 4-0 lead by the end of the 4th inning. But for some reason, Big Z crapped the bed in the top of the 5th inning. After getting the 1st 2 outs, Zambrano gave up a hit to the pitcher Giovanni Gallardo and he lost his cool. Zambrano followed that up with a walk, 2 hits, a wild pitch, another walk and then an error by Ryan Theriot at shortstop that would have ended the inning. We know how Big Z feels about his teammates making errors, so he let the next batter get a 2-run single to give the Brewers a 5-4 lead. Now granted, the last 2 runs should not have scored because of the Theriot error, but come on. Five runs on 6 hits and 4 walks over 5 innings of work – 105 pitches ???!!! – is not acceptable from your alleged ace. Someone has gotta get through to this guy.
Luckily the Cubs offense rallied the troops for a come-from-behind win, and the Cubs bullpen (save for Jeff Samardzija who has had just a brutal 2009 – 1-2 record, 7.89 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 26 ER on 41 hits and 14 walks in just 29 2/3 innings) turned in another solid 3 innings of scoreless relief. Aaron Heilman pitched a scoreless inning of relief and has now given up just 2ER in his last 9 outings (12 innings). And can you see the 26-year old Esmailin Caridad setting up for Carlos Marmol in 2010? After a rough major league debut in Colorado on August 10th, Caridad has been lights-out in his next 6 appearances. And since being called back to the major league level on September 8th, Caridad has pitched 4 scoreless innings, giving up just 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 2. I know he is raw and young, but a good off-season could solidify his spot on the 2010 Cubs.
As for the bats, the Brewers pitching was just awful. But give Derrek Lee some credit. Lee was patient at the plate – 2 for 2 with 3 RBI’s and 1 run scored. He also walked 4 times. Geovany Soto’s bat has shown some of the pop from his 2008 Rookie of the Year campaign – 2 for 5 with 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored, including his 11th homer of the season. Ryan Theriot’s bat has cooled off a little bit of late, but he had 4 walks as well on Tuesday night and scored 3 runs. Theriot also stole his 18th base of the year.
Not a lot to get excited about, but we’ll take the positives where we can get them…