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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  • Over/under on HBP tonight?

  • Yes, I know KB played LF and Szczur played RF last night, but there's a legit case that RF is the easier draw at PNC.

  • Seems an odd lineup -- Soler in LF and Bryant in RF? Two guys out of position? I guess Fed has to catch tonight so All Star Gramps can catch Lester tomorrow. Or maybe Joe just wants somebody else to catch a no-hitter. Would love to see KB get the power turned on. C'mon Jorge -- channel your playoff self!

  • All it took was Schwarber, Heyward, and Szczur getting hurt for him to get to play again. Let's go ahead and call this little stretch your last real chance to prove you belong on this team, Jorge.

  • soler hitting 2nd...didn't expect that one.

  • tonight: Fowler, Soler, Bryant, Rizzo, Zobrisjt, Baez, Russell, Federowicz, Arrieta

  • roster shuffle official per Sun Times, Gordon Wittenmeyer on twitter...Szczur to DL with minor hamstring strain, Chris Villanueva to 60 day DL, Ryan Kalish to 40 man roster and gets the call-up.

  • There's an interview with Heyward up on ESPN where he says the wrist thing has been lingering and he just brought it up with the team as it didn't go away. So that could very well explain why he hasn't had the same hard contact recently.

  • Ryan Kalish writeup (by Peter Gammons last November):

    ~snip~

  • Villanueva goes to the 60 day DL.

  • Peter Gammons just tweeted that teammates are tweeting Kalish is getting recalled. Not sure which ones and what they'll do with the 40 man but there we go.

  • Jesee Rogers just said he thought Ryan Kalish would be the call up.

  • Ryan Kalish is not on the 40-man either.

  • Schwarber hurt, Heyward hurt, Szczur hurt. Let's see how many guys have to go down before Soler gets his job back.

  • RHP Jake Arrieta (5-0, 1.00)

    Neat. This ought to be a good game.

  • Unless somebody goes on the 60-DL or ouright them they can't call up Shane he's not on the 40 man roster, he still on a minor league contract