For Cubs fans, these four names will mean the most in the next few weeks:
CC Sabathia, Rich Harden, Sean Gallagher, and Sean Marshall.
Newcomer Sabathia will have the most to say about the Cubs chances, as far as the competition goes. Rich Harden is the new hope for the Cubs staff, and Gallagher and Marshall are the pitchers he replaces (Gallagher was traded for Harden, who takes Marshall's spot in the rotation.)
Let's take a quick look at the performances turned in by these four.
CC Sabathia vs. the Colorado Rockies—WIN, 6 IP 5 H 3 R 2 ER 5 BB 5 K 3.00 ERA.
This was a decent start. It wasn't anything too flashy or amazing, but definitely respectable. While I didn't get to watch it, I've heard many assuming CC let his nerves get the best of him early on. Colorado has been a good hitting team, especially regarding their enormous outbursts against the Marlins. Continue to watch CC, and we'll try to determine his ongoing chances.
Rich Harden vs. the San Francisco Giants—ND, 5.1 IP 5 H 0 R 0 ER 3 BB 10 K 0.00 ERA.
Dominating stuff, but he's faced the Giants often enough, being rivals of his former Oakland A's. He and Sabathia threw a similar numbers of pitches, but CC finished the sixth and won his game. Harden was a victim of a bullpen meltdown and did not finish his sixth inning. Again, too soon to tell how well he will do.
Sean Gallagher vs. the Los Angeles Angels—WIN, 7 IP 2 H 2 R 2 ER 3 BB 7 K 2.57 ERA.
Thought to be a castoff from the Chicago Cubs, Billy Beane views this young arm very highly. Gallagher is only 22, but possesses a plus fastball and developing breaking stuff. He had pinpoint control against Angels hitters and used fewer pitches than past starts to throw more innings. He could be greatly helped by the DH in that he'll have down time to focus on his upcoming competition.
Sean Marshall vs. the San Francisco Giants—WIN, 2 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 2 K 0.00 ERA.
Due to a bullpen meltdown by the Chicago Cubs, Sean Marshall was called on in relief of Rich Harden. Pitching for the first time since July 6, Marshall was called on to pitch the 10th and 11th inning.
He faced six batters, outmatched all of them, needing only 20 pitches and recording two strikeouts. Marshall has all the looks of making a seamless transition back to the bullpen; speculation has already begun as to how this may affect the rotation.
Some suggest this opens Chicago's GM to trade away veteran Jason Marquis, while others view Marshall's success boding well, simply showcasing tradeworthy talent.
We'll see how this unfolds in the next three to four starts.