Back-end starting pitchers Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny – so dominant early in the season that moving Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen to allow the two to stay in the rotation didn’t seem insane (just stupid) – have come back to Earth in recent weeks. Not that such a return to averages was entirely unexpected. But Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella says he’s still not considering moving Zambrano back into the rotation.

”No, right now we need Carlos right where he’s at,” Piniella said. ”We asked Carlos to do something that would help this team, and it’s helped this team. If you don’t hold onto leads late in the game, it has a lasting effect on the team.”

Until Saturday night, Zambrano had been one of the bullpen’s top performers since his reassignment to a setup role two weeks ago. And Piniella stressed the domino effect Zambrano helps create in terms of being able to use other relievers in more appropriate roles for their pitching styles and experience.

”If we can get into a stretch where we’re scoring runs, he’s going to be a big help for us,” Piniella said.

”And we’re trying to win baseball games.”

Whether a sooner-than-later return to the rotation has crossed Zambrano’s mind with some of the team’s recent rough starts, he’s not saying. He declined an interview request Sunday. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

Unless the Cubs are able to sell high on Carlos Silva or Tom Gorzelanny, it’s going to take a number of crappy performances by one or more of the starters to force Piniella’s hand and move Zambrano back into the rotation.

The experiment has already lasted longer than I would have expected (or preferred). In no reasonably explainable way has Zambrano’s presence in the bullpen made the Cubs a better team.






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