One Spot Left on the Chicago Cubs Pitching Staff, 11 of 12 Spots Filled

Patrick SchaeferCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2010

MESA, AZ - MARCH 01:  James Russell of the Chicago Cubs poses for a photo during Spring Training Media Photo Day at Fitch Park on March 1, 2010 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

12 of the 25 spots on the Chicago Cubs roster will be filled with pitchers.

Locks for those pitching spots are 1. Carlos Zambrano 2. Ryan Dempster 3. Randy Wells 4. Ted Lily(once he returns from the 15 day DL, a spot will be open for the first couple of weeks) 5. Tom Gorzelanny 6. Carlos Silva 7. Carlos Marmol 8. John Grabow 9. Sean Marshall 10. Esmailin Caridad 11. Justin Berg (according to Carrie Muskat)

12. Mike Parisi/ John Gaub/ James Russell/ Marcos Mateo

13. One spot will be available for the first couple of weeks, with Lily on the DL. (Look for one of the players from 12. to fill this spot, or Samardijza).

My predictions are that Gorzelanny and Silva will be in the rotation to start the season, with Lily on the DL. After the first couple of weeks, the Cubs will re-evaluate and decide who stays in the rotation and who goes to the bullpen. Samardijza will most likely be headed to AAA Iowa to start the season.

Justin Berg was pretty impressive last year in his brief tenure in the majors. He has been solid this spring so far as well, with a 1.80 ERA after five appearances. According to Gordon Wittenmyer Lou Pinella had this to say, ''I think the two kids that we have right now [to put in the setup mix] would either be Caridad or Berg. Berg's been throwing the ball well.''

That leaves one spot open with four men competing for the job. John Gaub has great stuff and potential to be a very dominant reliever. Yet, he hasn't shown that this spring, so far he has given up 4 earned runs in 5.2 innings, allowing 6 hits(2 of those home runs), 2 walks, with 6 strikeouts.

James Russell has yet to allow an earned run, he has given up one unearned run so far. He allowed 4 hits and 2 walks, with 8 strikeouts in 7 innings. Both Gaub and Russell are left handed. Russell is a favorite in my opinion to make the team, that would give the Cubs three left-handed pitchers in the bullpen, but Grabow has pitched much better against right-handed batters.

Mike Parisi is a rule 5 draftee, meaning he has to make the team and stay on the Cubs' 25-man roster all season in order to stay with the Cubs. If he doesn't make the team, he will be offered back to the Cardinals. He has been ineffective so far in his 8.2 inning giving up 5 runs (4 earned), 7 hits (2 home runs), 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts in 8.2 innings.

Marcos Mateo has given up 6 earned runs, on 4 hits in 5.2 innings. He allowed 2 home runs and 6 walks while striking out 4. He was impressive in his last outing, coming into the game against the White Sox after Andrew Cashner loaded the bases with three straight walks and no outs. Mateo struck out Paul Konerko before allowing a run to score on a groundout. He then walked the next batter to reload the bases before inducing a fly out.

There are still spring training games to play, but at this point, Russell appears to be the best option for the final spot in the bullpen. We will see how it plays out, and may find out after Monday, when the coaching staff sits down and goes over the final rosters spots.