The Chicago Cubs should be popping champagne bottles in celebration that Carlos Zambrano won’t need season-ending surgery for his shoulder. He was diagnosed with tendinitis and inflammation in his shoulder, which is much better than what the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times was hinting at the last few days. The Cubs will only go as far as Zambrano can make it.
Rich Harden is having some issues and will have a start pushed back, Dempster hasn’t thrown this many innings since he was on the Florida Marlins, Lilly kind of imploded at the end of the season last year, and I will never trust Jason Marquis. The replacement starters for the Cubs would either be Sean Marshall or long-reliever, Jon Lieber. Marshall seems to pitch one good game and followed it by two awful outings. I don’t think Lieber would be a sufficient addition either, he has been hurt for most of the season. Angel Guzman could possibly start a game, but he has been hurt for nearly the entire season and has yet to win a start in his limited history as a starter.
I think that Zambrano and Harden should make it to the post-season, but their ability to go on 3-days rest on a few occasions isn’t an ideal situation. Zambrano hasn’t been good on 3-days rest and would fear Harden would be over-worked. My theory would work and think it would be best. I know Kerry Wood has been a great closer, but he has post-season experience and seems to be pitching really well. If they were to convert Wood back to a starter for the rest of the season, they would have to start building up his arm strength right now. I know Jeff Samardzjia was a starter in the minors this season, but his ERA wasn’t great and doesn’t have the ability yet to get guys out the 2nd or 3rd time through the lineup.
If Zambrano or Harden can’t make it through their next start, you have to think that starting Kerry Wood would at least make it through Pinella or GM Hendry’s thought process. He is a free agent after this season, so Wood may not want to risk injury, but it may be the Cubs’ best option to winning their first World Series since 1908.