Reader Blog: The Zambrano Move
When the Cubs first made the Zambrano to the bullpen move, I was skeptical. Zambrano is, if not the Cubs best pitcher, their second best or maybe third best behind Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly. I never cared about the amount of money he was paid but I did care that he would be pitching fewer innings. Giving fewer innings to one of your best pitchers only works if you don't drop that number by too much and figure out a way to increase the leverage situations he will be coming in.
If the Cubs had used Z as sort of a 6th starter and had him pitch almost every 7th and 8th inning. If they had used him to come in 6th inning when the other team's middle of the lineup was coming up and if they had made sure he got a minimum of 5 innings per week, this could have worked. It could have been a good idea. Fewer innings but better innings. More important innings. Work him on 1-2 days rest at most and alternate him in that role with Sean Marshall. It may have even allowed the Cubs to go with an 11 man or even a 10 man pitching staff.
But has that happened? No. Z moved to the bullpen on April 24, almost 2 weeks ago. He has just barely cleared 5 innings. He should be at least at 10 innings by now. He is being used as a standard 8th inning "set up" guy. Piniella and the Cubs could have done something useful. They could have turned Z into the team savior. Instead he's buried. He needs to go back into the rotation. He's a better pitcher right now than all but one of the Cubs' current rotation. Only Ryan Dempster is obviously better. If Piniella doesn't know what to do with Z in the bullpen, it's time for that experiment to end.