Last night, Carlos Silva got another quality start, pitching six innings and allowing two runs to drop his ERA to 3.35 and improve to 5-0 on the season.
On a night when we learned that Carlos Zambrano will be returning to the starting rotation shortly, a different Carlos was able to steal the show by pitching six scoreless innings before allowing a two-run home run without recording an out in the seventh and being taken out.
After going 2-9 in an 11-game stretch, the Cubs have been able to pull off three straight wins after taking the finale against the division rival Pittsburgh Pirates and sweeping a two-game series against the Colorado Rockies.
The Cubs were helped offensively by young shortstop Starlin Castro who put the Cubs up 2-0 on a fielders choice in the fourth to help give the Cubs some early insurance on the Rockies.
Then, in the eighth, he knocked in Tyler Colvin, who scored twice and stole his first career base, on an infield single to put the Cubs up 4-2. Later in the inning, the Castro scored on a Ryan Theriot single along with Geovany Soto to give the Cubs the final score of 6-2.
The bullpen, which has been an issue for the Cubs this season, pitched very well last night, allowing just one hit and one walk over the last three innings.
After Silva was pulled, Esmailin Caridad came in and walked Miguel Olivo.
Caridad was immediately replaced by James Russell, who struck out two and finished the inning.
Sean Marshall pitched a scoreless eighth and Carlos Zambrano pitched a perfect ninth while striking out two and finally having a good outing in the bullpen.
Zambrano received more good news when he found out later that night that he would be returning to the rotation after a few long relief appearances.
With diminished velocity and poor performances, the bullpen experiment has been a complete failure. The only problem is, who will Zambrano replace?
The starting rotation has been the only positive for the Cubs and the only reasonable suggestion for the Cubs may be to move to a six-man rotation. Although there is no definitive ace on the staff, there is also no weak spot in the rotation either.
Adding Zambrano, will likely give the Cubs one of those two things.
Zambrano’s velocity has been his mark in the past, but over the past two seasons his fastball has dropped from the mid 90’s to the high 80’s, reaching around 90-91 on occasion. Without his fastball, he has lost his edge and hitters are taking advantage.
This season, Zambrano came in and laid an egg in the season opener against the Atlanta Braves, getting pulled after just 1.1 innings and allowing eight runs.
That one start, however, was seemingly his only bad start. Over his next three starts before getting put in the bullpen he pitched 18 innings and allowed eight runs. That isn’t ace material, but it’s an ERA of 4.00 through three starts, which isn’t worthy of being put into the bullpen.
Since going to the bullpen, Zambrano has allowed six runs in 9.2 innings, but five of those runs came in two appearances while he has six scoreless appearances.
Zambrano was moved to the bullpen in hopes that he could find his velocity and give the Cubs a legitimate set-up man for Carlos Marmol. It appears that Marshall will be moving into that spot for the remainder of the season.
Although Zambrano is no ace, he will get a chance to prove that he should be a starter when he gets back into the rotation.
It was a great night for Cubs named Carlos; now it’s time to see if guys named Carlos can make a great season for the Cubs.
I’m Joe W.
I’m Joe W.