I know I keep harping on this, but with the Cubs so far out of it (11.5 games behind Cardinals; 8.5 games behind Rockies), we’ve gotta cling to something.
Overall, it has been a productive season for the Cubs starting pitchers. And Carlos Marmol has really gotten his act together since Manager Lou Pinella promoted him to the closer’s role. The number’s don’t lie:
Carlos Zambrano picked up his 8th win on Wednesday afternoon. He pitched 6 strong innings, giving up just 2 ER on 5 hits and 3 walks. If Kosuke Fukodome had made that incredible diving catch in center field on the 2-run double, it would have been 6 scoreless innings for Big Z. Zambrano is 8-6 overall – he has made 24 starts, with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. Too many walks – 66 in 143+ innings, but the under 4 ERA and 123 K’s are nice.
Randy Wells – we’ve been on his badnwagon since he made his 1st Cubs start back in May. What’s not to like – 10-8 record; 22 starts; 139+ innings; 2.84 ERA; 1.22 WHIP. Gotta love the 35 walks and 84 K’s. The lower walk and K numbers mean less pitches and longer outings, which means good things for your bullpen and the team. Let the other team put the ball in play and make outs.
Ted Lilly – talk about consistent. 11-8; 24 starts; 156+ innings; 3.17 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Think Lilly likes pitching in the NL as opposed to the AL East where he pitched for the Yankees and Blue Jays for 6 seasons? His strikeout to walk ratio is incredible – 130 to 32?! WOW. Not much else to say.
Ryan Dempster – although it has been a disappointing season for Dempster, especially after his 17-win season in 2008, he has had enough really good starts to make his numbers look adequate. 9-8; 26 starts (leads team); 163 innings (leads team); 4.03 ERA; and 1.38 WHIP. While his bonehead broken toe injury in July hurt the club, and his inconsistency was tough to explain at times, Dempster is a good starter to have on your staff. Let’s hope a few good outings down the stretch here in 2009 will give him a little confidence to keep his head during a rigorous off-season workout regimen.
Rich Harden – although he will likely be gone in 2010, Harden has been a valuable cog for Pinella and the Cubs. 9-8; 24 starts; 134 innings; 4.10 ERA; and 1.30 WHIP. His numbers are eerily similar to Dempster, but his high walk (59) and strikeout (162) numbers always lead to high pitch counts. Not good for Harden who has had a history of arm issues or for the Cubs bullpen. Harden’s outings are usually 5 or 6 innings, and that can take its toll over the course of a long MLB season. Harden pitched 7 innings only 5 times all season long. That’s not enough.
What’s scary about these numbers is that the Cubs will likely end the season with 5 starting pitchers with 10 wins each. With a team as bad as they are in 2009, that is a pretty impressive stat. Makes you wonder what would have come of this team if Kevin Gregg hadn’t blown so many saves, and if the Cubs offense had been even just a little bit more consistent.
We’ve already highlighted Carlos Marmol a bunch of times since Pinella promoted him to closer, but make it 7 for 7 save conversions for Marmol with Wednesday’s save in Pittsburgh. Marmol now has 11 saves on the season, and he has 12 K’s and 3 walks in save situations (7 1/3 innings). Pretty damn good.
Let’s hope the Cubs can keep it up the rest of the way – even though it will be tough to deal with the disappointing 2009 season, maybe they can take some solace in the fact that there were some bright spots along the way…