It took the Cubs a year or two to get over their obsession with handedness in their lineup – just get the best hitters out there, whether they’re righty or lefty.
It’s taken almost as long for the Cubs get over their obsession with handedness in the bullpen.
The Cubs will be relying on left-handers Sean Marshall and John Grabow as their primary setup pitchers now that Carlos Zambrano is headed back to the rotation.
Marshall has held opponents scoreless in 17 of his 21 appearances and batters are hitting just .162 off him. Grabow has pitched better since receiving a cortisone shot in his left knee on May 8.
“We’re basically almost strictly going left-handed in the seventh and eighth innings,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “We tried going the other way and it’s worked much better with the lefties, so that’s what we’re going to do.
“I look at Marshall now as our eighth-inning guy, and I look at [Carlos] Marmol obviously as our closer — and the seventh, we need to do what we need to do. You get them out left-handed, right-handed, it doesn’t matter as long as you get them out.”
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has been looking for an experienced right-handed setup pitcher since the offseason.
“I don’t worry about right or left,” Hendry said Tuesday. “Grabow, for most of his career, has gotten righties out more than lefties. Marshall’s been terrific. People aren’t giving him enough credit.” cubs.com.
I don’t know anyone – *anyone* – who isn’t giving Sean Marshall all the credit in the world for being the best reliever in the pen not named Marmol. What a load of crap for Hendry to say that in the same breath as finally acknowledging that it doesn’t freaking matter whether Marshall throws lefty, righty, or with his feet, as long as he gets guys out.
We’ve said for weeks that Marshall should be the primary setup guy, but all Piniella and Hendry could talk about was a right-handed setup guy. So obsessed were they that they made what may prove to be the most colossal blunder in the Piniella/Hendry era: moving Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen.
As for Grabow, he’ll get chances in the 6th and 7th, but until he becomes more predictably good, he’ll not be used consistently as a setup pitcher – I don’t care what Hendry and Piniella say.