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Current Starting Pitchers: Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster Matt Garza, Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner, Doug Davis, Rodrigo Lopez
Chances of Being with the club in 2012:
Carlos Zambrano: 100%
Ryan Dempster: 75%
Matt Garza: 100%
Randy Wells: 100%
Andrew Cashner: 100%
Doug Davis: 0%
Rodrigo Lopez: 0%
Potential Free Agent Signings: Mark Buerhle, Justin Duchscherer, Jeff Francis, Freddy Garcia, Edwin Jackson, Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, Brad Penny, Joel Pineiro, C.J. Wilson
Predicted Starting Rotation in 2012:
As much as people want to debate, Carlos Zambrano isn't going anywhere. He has a full no-trade clause, and it would be absolutely absurd to trade away one of your organization's best, most consistent pitchers.
If they were to trade Zambrano away, they would have nothing to build their starting rotation around, and would just be creating more questions for themselves.
Ryan Dempster has a $14 million player option, but the Cubs fully expect him to exercise it. It would be crazy for Dempster not to take the option, he's having a terrible season and won't be offered that kind of money elsewhere.
The only way Dempster isn't coming back next season is if the Cubs trade him before the deadline, but don't expect that to happen.
The Cubs traded a bunch of future prospects for Matt Garza, and it is very unlikely he will be moved in the near future.
Despite their health concerns, Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner will be expected to occupy the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation.
The biggest concern for the Cubs is finding a fifth starter who can be consistent and who won't come at a steep price.
It's never a bad idea to have too many good pitchers on a team, and the Cubs are finding this out the hard way. It would be wise for the Cubs to sign two starting pitchers in the offseason, and to go with a six-man rotation to put less pressure on the young arms of Cashner and Wells.
The best bets for the Cubs would be finding veterans like Livan Hernandez or Brad Penny to secure the fifth spot if Cashner can't perform up to his expectations. The Cubs might also sign a promising starting pitcher like Jeff Francis or Joel Pineiro.