Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Opening Day starter 2009: Ted Lilly

***Note: I wrote this post yesterday, so knowing my luck, the Rangers will light Ted up this afternoon.***

There has been some joking around by Lou and Z about anointing Ted Lilly the Opening Day starter this season in order to make amends for Lilly not getting a chance to pitch in the playoffs, but maybe the Cubs should actually consider it.

The season starts on April 6 against the Ass Trolls in Houston. Upon first seeing the schedule, I thought there was no way Lilly should pitch in this series much less be the Opening Day starter. This line of thinking was based on the power of Carlos Lee/Lance Berkman to hit the ball very, very far and Lilly’s tendency to give up lots of dingers (32 last season...by far the most on the team).

To my surprise though, Sweaty Teddy seems to be quite the stud in Houston based on his performance last season.

In 2008, Lilly had three starts at Houston. Here are his combined stats in those games...

2-0, 3 ER, 11 H, 1 HR, 21 K, 5 BB

Not too bad, eh?

Granted, Lilly hasn’t been know to tear it up early in the season, but he seemed to enjoy success against a 2008 Astros team that isn’t much different in 2009.

Now I know that Opening Day is just one game out of 162 and will most likely play a somewhat minor role in the larger outcome of the season, but I want to start the season off with a win damn it. As far as I’m concerned, the Cubs are on a 4-game losing streak (none of which Lilly pitched in). Plus this will save Zambrano the pressure of having to be the Opening Day starter...a role he has sucked at quite mightily.

After that, I would start Z in Game 2 (he did throw a no-no against the ‘Stros after all) and then Harden for Game 3.

Why start Rich third?

Well, based on the schedule, it will maximize his rest for the next few weeks without having to skip a start.

By pitching Harden on April 8, he wouldn’t have to make another start until April 15 (6 days rest). Staying with that schedule, Harden’s third start would then come on April 21 (5 days rest). And as well all know, the more rest Rich gets, the better he pitches.

Will this happen? Most likely not. I’m guessing Lou will go with a rotation that looks more like this : Z, Demp, Lilly, Shark/Marshall/Other guy, Harden.

But maybe, just maybe, my plan is Ted Lilly-psychotic enough to work.

I only approve of this if

I only approve of this if Houston has a Molina brother that TL can beat up on.

HA HA HA! Sorry, that was more for my own amusement. I don't think the mental image of him running over Yadier will ever get old.

But you're right - Z hasn't exactly excelled on Opening Day. The Rich thing makes sense too, which means of course it won't happen that way.

6 Man Rotation?

The cubs could put together a 6 man rotation for the early part of the season. It would be unconventional, but it would give Harden the extra days between starts early in the year and it would give the team a chance to see what they could get from 2 competing pitchers outside of the top 4. It would effectively keep all of the starters innings down early in the year, but it could stretch the bullpen thin as well. I honestly don't know if this would work out or not, as I can't think of any examples of a team trying this set-up. A potential 6 man rotation & bullpen could look something like this:

Rotation --> Zambrano - Lilly - Dempster - Harden - Marshall - Samardzija

Bullpen --> Gaudin - Heilman - Guzman - Cotts - Gregg - Marmol

This is just a thought. I left out Vizcaino or traded him, but any combination of pitchers could be used in this scenario, with 6 in the bullpen and 6 in the rotation, since the cubs have so many guys that could swing back-and-forth. I'll have to think a little more about this because at this point I don't even know what to think of my own idea.

The Cubs have off days on

The Cubs have off days on April 9, 14, and 20th, then on May 11 and 18.

If Rich Harden can't handle pitching in a 5 man rotation with that many extra days of rest, then he shouldn't be on a major league roster. No offense to you, HC, but I think a 6 man rotation would be a horrible idea.

The main reason I thought it

The main reason I thought it could be an idea worth exploring is because of the number of pitchers that could bounce between the rotation and the bullpen (with Heilman, Marshall, Gaudin, Guzman, etc). But I agree with you, and if it were a good plan it probably would've been tried by a MLB team at some point by now & I likely wouldn't have been the first person to think of the idea either. No offense taken at all.


I was thinking the same thing Kyle. I don't understand sticking Harden in the 5th spot just because he's been injury prone, unless of course he's ill or busy healing some injury when the season begins. He's the most dominant SP the Cubs have when healthy, so they should pitch him in the top part of the rotation and maximize his days of rest as you suggest. When the off days decrease and Harden is looking at a four day rest, that would be a good time to spot start someone else from the bullpen.

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