Now that Spring Training is about to start, it’s time to really assess certain areas of concern for the Cubs. Ted Lilly underwent successful shoulder surgery this off-season, but it doesn’t look like he will be ready by Opening Day in April. That begs the question – who will be the Cubs 4th and 5th starters come the start of the season?
By all accounts, it looks like 5 pitchers will be battling for the 2 spots – Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny, Michael Parisi (a Rule 5 Draft Pick) and Carlos Silva. Samardzija and Marshall both picked well out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2009, so Manager Lou Pinella might favor keeping one or both of them as relievers. That being said, Samardzija seemed to struggle in 2009 going back and forth between the Cubs major league club and Triple-A Iowa and going back and forth between starting and relieving. If the Cubs envision Samardzija being a starter long-term, but if he doesn’t pitch well enough to earn a starting spot out of Spring Training, it might better serve him to go back to Triple-A to hone his starting pitching skills. As reported before, Samardzija pitched in Mexico this winter to work on all of his pitches and the extra work seemed to work wonders for the young fireballer.
Gorzelanny made some nice starts for the Cubs at the end of 2009 and Parisi is more of a long shot to earn a starting spot. Silva has always been a starting pitcher, so it is unlikely that the Cubs will move him to the bullpen.
I’m thinking that the Cubs go with Gorzelanny and Silva as the 4th and 5th starters to open the season. Marshall will work out of the pen with Samardzija going back to Triple-A to continue his work as a starter. Let’s hope 1 or 2 of them really shine to give us a little confidence heading into the 2010 campaign. Otherwise, it could be another long season on the North Side…