2010 Chicago Cubs Profile: Tom Gorzelanny

Matt TruebloodSenior Analyst IFebruary 11, 2010

CHICAGO - AUGUST 30: Tom Gorzelanny #22 of the Chicago Cubs pitches in the 4th inning against the New York Mets on August 30, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Mets defeated the Cubs 4-1.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In 2007, Tom Gorzelanny won 14 games and threw more than 200 innings of very solid baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was among those named on the final vote fan ballot for All-Star honors.

However, the 201 2/3 innings Gorzelanny threw that year were nearly 50 more than he had ever thrown in one season before. The next season, the effects of that abusive jump became apparent. In 21 starts, he logged a 6.66 ERA and walked more batters than he whiffed.

By the beginning of the 2009 season, the Pirates had essentially given up on Gorzelanny. He pitched in only nine games, all in relief, before being traded to the Cubs in July.

That move, however, may have saved the Evergreen Park native's career. In 13 games and seven starts, Gorzelanny found himself reborn in the Windy City. He struck out 40 and walked just 13 in 38 1/3 innings, and though his ERA was an unseemly 5.63, he proved that his skills have only improved during the past few seasons. Going into 2010, he figures as a front-runner for the one of the team's vacant starting spots. Even if he doesn't win a job there in camp, he will fit nicely as a complement to John Grabow from the left side in the Cubs' pen.

The best guess is that Gorzelanny will again get some work in each role in 2010. Here are my projected numbers for him:

  • 17 starts, 17 relief appearances
  • 99 2/3 innings
  • 80 strikeouts
  • 39 walks
  • 1.37 WHIP
  • 4.11 ERA
  • 4.24 WHIP
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Those numbers are pretty bullish for a man who has had just one and a half effective Major League season at age 27 and a half. The skills he demonstrated last season are tantalizing, however, and there is a historical precedent for success among players whose careers begin with overuse, as long as they can recover from it to begin with. Gorzelanny has done that, and now, pitching closer to home than he has since high school, he has a very good chance to add something significant to the Cubs' run at
post-season play in 2010.

Watch for the rest of my 2010 Cubs profiles, which I'll continue to do throughout the rest of the off-season. Here is a selection of those already done, and a few on the way soon.

Jeff Baker