Cubs Announce Rotation and Closer

As promised, Lou Piniella announced the rotation and closer duties today. After going on back-to-back days, Kerry Wood apparently woke up still able to move and will be the Cubs closer to start the year. When he eventually goes on the disabled list this season, Carlos Marmol or Bob Howry should be able to step right in.

The Cubs starting five will be Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Rich Hill and Jason Marquis. Jon Lieber will start the year in the bullpen in a long relief role, ready to step in when/if Rich Hill continues to struggle with the strike zone or when/if Ryan Dempster continues to be Ryan Dempster or when/if Jason Marquis continues to be Jason Marquis.

The Cubs bullpen will likely look like this to start the year:

Jon Lieber

Kevin Hart

Scott Eyre*

Michael Wuertz

Bob Howry

Carlos Marmol

Kerry Wood

* If Eyre's elbow tightness lands him on the disabled list to start the year, either Carmen Pignatiello or Sean Marshall will likely take his spot.


My guess is that keeping Marquis in the rotation is an effort to boost his perceived trade value. I can't imagine this is the long-term plan. Lou hasn't been shy about his problems with Marquis.

lieber is the good soldier puts team ahead of himself

Yes I fully expect one of the 2 between Marquis and Dempster to lose their rotation spots sometime in April, with Leiber filling in, Hill should get plenty of chances before he is taken out of the rotation. I'd say the most likely scenarios are a Marquis trade or a Dempster total breakdown.

Where is Marshall going, Iowa?

Too bad, I liked that kid.

Poll: How many starts are they going to have for the Cubs in 2008:

Zambrano __
Lilly __
Hill __
Marquis __
Dempster __
Leiber __
Marshall __
Other __

Zambrano 33, Lilly 18, Hill 32, Marquis 32, Dempster 12, Leiber 20, Marshall 12, Other 3 (Mateo)

18 for Lilly? Are you fearing an injury?

hey are we going to do a predictions game again this year like we did last year? guess this question is aimed at Rob and the staff...

Rob G. has a staff?!

*insert improper joke*

Rob G. has a staff?! 

biggest staff you've ever seen... 

As Chris Matthews would say,



Sean Marshall and Carmen Pignatiello will now compete for Scott Eyre's spot as late-inning left-hander, after Piniella confirmed that Eyre probably won't be ready to start the season due to tightness in his left elbow.

I'm not thrilled with Demp in the rotation, but okay, it's a decent plan other than that.

I'm thrilled about the rotation, but it's not terrible, assuming Hill gets his shit together. The most likely scenario, as I see it, is that Dempster eventually struggles and gets moved back to the pen in exchange for Lieber. Whether he'd move back to closer at that point seems unlikely.

I'm not too upset about it. I know Lieber's numbers are better than Dempster's this spring, but I'm taking that with a grain of salt since they aren't all facing major league hitters. What really concerns me about Jon Lieber is that his velocity is horrible. Just awful.

I'm sure Larry and Lou discussed that when they made their decision. I'd be really nervous about opening the season with a guy in my rotation throwing in the low 80s when he isn't supposed to be throwing in the low 80s.

he's an older sinker baller. his velocity is gonna drop with age. ala maddux,martinez,etc. It happens unless you are someone like nolan ryan or roger clemens. I've been a long time believer now that velocity means squat. keeping hitters fooled and location location location are what will ultimately win you the game.

it dont mean squat if you got movement...and he's got movement on his sinker...but its the fastball and cutting fastball i'm more concerned about since he's working the 80-85mph range.

all 3 options for the last 2 slots (throwing dumpster's slot in there, though it was more of a sure thing as of week+ ago) have their pros/cons.

Exactly. I was more specifically referring to the cutter, which don't cut so good anymore. And it's 83 mph. Which means he's probably our best candidate to be throwing live BP before games.

Any new news on the Roberts situation?

I understand the Dempster inclusion (he's pitched well and deserves a chance to show that he can't do it). I understand the Hill inclusion (bad Spring, but promising 2007).

Now, why the hell is Marquis in the rotation?

2 years 22 million dollars left on his contract. That is why he is in the rotation.


It is 2 years about 16 million dollars:

08:$6.375M, 09:$9.875M

Which is actually a very decent price for a #4 or #5 starter who will give you 180+ innings and a league average ERA.

I understand the Dempster inclusion (he's pitched well and deserves a chance to show that he can't do it

Pitched well?

You do realize that Marquis has pitched better than Dempster this spring, right?

Let me get this straight. Dempster deserves a spot in the rotation because he has "pitched well," but Marquis doesn't, even though he had pitched much better than Dempster this spring?

And oh yea... add to the equation the fact that Marquis is by far the best hitter of the three, Leiber can barely throw 85, both Leiber and Dempster have injury histories while Marquis has shown to be a durable and valuable #5 starter.

Recent comments

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  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:

    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.

  • O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already. 

  • I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.

    I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.

  • Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.

  • With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined). 

  • BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.

    If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).

    As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).