Who Starts in 2008?

What a difference a year makes. During the 2007 spring training, the starting rotation discussion centered around which of these three candidates would be our number five starter: Wade Miller, Mark Prior, and Angel Guzman. Combined, they started six times (three apiece for Miller and Guzman) Trachsel also started four games, with the next smallest total belonging to Sean Marshall, at nineteen.  Congrats to Marshall for grabbing the "Ruben Quevedo Fifth-Man" mantle, and running with it.

This year? Carrie Muskat gives the rundown on the candidates for the two open spots in the rotation. The first bit of news is this notion that the fourth spot is open, that Marquis evidently has to apply for his old job. The other applicants being Dempster, Lieber, Marshall (also applying for his old job) and Gallagher.

Among the more interesting observations from the Muskat article is that Marquis has a history of fading in the second half. A quick check of ESPN's stats page shows Marquis with a 4.41 ERA pre-All Star break for the last three years, 5.54 after it. How stupid and unrealistic would it be to let him have the fifth spot for the first half of the season, then ship him off to some unsuspecting foe, and bring up Gallagher for the second half?

Assuming no trades are made and everyone is healthy enough to pitch five innings every fifth day, who do you go with? My own preference, irrespective of contracts, options, and sweet promises covertly whispered into players' ears, would be for Marshall and Lieber to start out 4 and 5, with Gallagher in AAA and Dempster and Marquis doing.... well... something. Lieber's recent injuries haven't been arm-related, he had a bit of an unusually high BABIP last year, and he'll throw strikes. Marshall's performance last year simply was encouraging enough that I'd like to see what he can do as a follow-up. Interestingly (and perhaps tellingly?) all four are strong ground-ball pitchers: Dempster and Marquis each checking in last year at 1.63 ground balls per fly ball, Marshall at 1.55, and Lieber at 1.52.

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  • Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 37 min ago view
  • video of Maddon.

    http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561343809737202839-4

    always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.

    Rob G. 16 hours 48 min ago view
  • from Muskat:

    #Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs

    Rob G. 16 hours 53 min ago view
  • http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561339391889382475-4

    Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.

    Rob G. 16 hours 58 min ago view
  • great defense

    Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.

    Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.

    I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.

    Rob G. 17 hours 10 min ago view
  • If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?

    Craig A. 17 hours 21 min ago view
  • #Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.

    Fun with FIP

    • J. Hammel   3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
    • J. Arrieta     2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
    • J. Lester     2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
    • K. Hendricks  2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
    • J. Lackey     3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
    Rob G. 17 hours 47 min ago view
  • zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k

    he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.

    crunch 18 hours 27 min ago view
  • JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.

    My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.

    Jackstraw 19 hours 39 min ago view
  • Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...

    billybucks 19 hours 56 min ago view
  • joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1

    not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.

    really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.

    crunch 20 hours 38 sec ago view
  • Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.

    Eric S 20 hours 45 min ago view
  • Classic Scully - great stuff.

    Thank God we'll still have Hawk next season. (cricket cricket cricket)

    Eric S 1 day 1 hour ago view
  • Here's Scully's call on Bryant's 10th-inning homer:

    "And it's a long fly ball, a mean fly ball, and a gone fly ball."

    VirginiaPhil 1 day 2 hours ago view
  • When the Cubs were the old, hundred-year Cubs, one bad hop did not undo their opponents.

    VirginiaPhil 1 day 2 hours ago view
  • If only he was clutcher. More clutcher.

    Jackstraw 1 day 4 hours ago view