Manager Lou Piniella hinted this past Friday that Sean Marshall will start the season as the club’s fifth starter.
“He has done absolutely nothing to hurt his chances,” Piniella said. “He’s throwing the ball as well as I’ve seen him throw it. He came in here as the front-runner and, truthfully, he hasn’t lost that status.”
Sean has pitched 13.1 innings this spring, the most of any Cubs pitcher. In those 13.1 innings Marshall has given up nine hits and allowed one earned run, striking out eight while walking just one.
Marshall is the clear favorite, even though Piniella would like a second lefty in the bullpen.
He was used in relief and as a spot starter last season and compiled a 3.42 ERA out of the bullpen (27 appearances, one save) and a 4.15 ERA in seven starts. But again, it appears the fifth starter spot will go to Marshall, though Lou sees no need yet to make a formal announcement.
“I see more composure. I see more experience. I see a more confident pitcher,” Piniella said. “I see a kid that throws the ball harder than he did two years ago, a better biting curveball. He has pitched as well as in Arizona anybody we have all spring. He has gotten stronger and he has gotten better. I haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe somebody else should (get) that job.”
Marshall has shown improved velocity, his curve is giving left-handed hitters fits and his soft pitches are tough for right-handers to make good contact with. Marshall, with a 0.68 ERA this spring, told reporters he’d be surprised if he’s not slotted into the No. 5 spot.
“I guess a little bit, yeah,” he said, “but you can’t have too much pitching. There are some guys who have thrown the ball very well. I’m a big team guy, and I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win.”
The Pinkie’s 2009 Projections: