Chicago Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano will come home next week – on the road. When the Cubs face the Pittsburgh Pirates, Zambrano will be one of their starting pitchers.

The Cubs are not going to have a six-man rotation, but who will be bumped has yet to be determined.

“We don’t have to concern ourselves with it until next week, and we have some days off coming up,” Piniella said. “It’ll be a fairly smooth transition.”

Zambrano made four starts before he switched to the bullpen to help bridge the gap to closer Carlos Marmol. In 11 relief appearances, Zambrano is 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA, giving up six runs on 16 hits over 11 1/3 innings. Three of those runs came in a relief outing on May 14 against the Pirates that prompted Zambrano to ask to return to starting.

“We’ll use him short with the idea that on this coming road trip, we’ll insert him into the rotation,” Piniella said.

Zambrano’s outing Monday went better than expected. The Cubs projected him throwing 65-70 pitches and he easily threw 73, facing Tyler Colvin and Jeff Baker.

“He’s ready to go,” Piniella said of Zambrano, who was 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA in four starts. “His velocity was good. He worked on his split finger, worked on his cutter. He had a nice workout, a real nice workout.”

Gorzelanny may be the odd man out of the rotation. Carlos Silva is 6-0. Ryan Dempster is 2-4 with a 3.73 ERA heading into Tuesday’s game, but he has gone six or more innings in each of his starts. Ted Lilly and Randy Wells both are better suited for the rotation.

I’m not sure I agree with the logic that Randy Wells is simply “not suited” for the bullpen given Lou’s previous statement that the two guys he considered when bumping Zambrano to the pen were Zambrano and Wells. Further, that still leads me to believe Wells is the most likely guy to get bumped.

The timing of Z’s return, based on turns on the rotation, implies that the one bumped will be Tom Gorzelanny (starting tonight), Ted Lilly (starting tomorrow), or Randy Wells (next in the rotation). In theory, those are the guys that line up to start in the Pirates series.

There is not an off-day until after the Pirates series, so unless there’s going to be some kind of weird, short-rest shift going on, if Z is to return in Pittsburgh, those are the three candidates to be bumped.

  • wax_eagle

    Can’t say it would hurt Wells to go to the pen for a while.

    He threw 190 innings last year between minors and bigs, the most he had thrown previously was 130 and that was 3 years ago. The lighter work load for the remainder of the season may do him some good.

    • Ace

      You’re probably right – though, if he can stomach the innings, isn’t Wells one of our five best starters? Hard to say for sure. Are Gorzelanny and Silva for real? For really real? Hard to say.

      • wax_eagle

        Don’t get me wrong.

        I would rather Wells be in the rotation than Gorz. I would much prefer that Gorz or Lilly get traded than for Wells to end up in the pen. Gorz makes the most sense now if we can deal him. But until then Wells in the pen should give him a nice rest.

        No one seems to be mentioning that Silva may be the better choice. He isn’t pitching deep into games and the record is mostly a run support mirage. He is pitching better than he has in years, but he hasn’t been as awesome as his record indicates. Maybe we could catch lightning in a bottle with him in the pen.

        The issue here is that no one in the rotation is struggling. The cubs are going to be in this bind for the rest of the year unless someone comes back to earth rather hard. This problem could also extend to next year when they have 2 guys at AAA who will likely be ML ready and only one real rotation spot open if only Lilly leaves

        • jstraw

          The Cubs simply must trade something they have a surplus of for something they need, if they’re planning to be in it this year. So the question gets a little complicated. Do you decide who you would choose to do without and keep the other five in the rotation? Does that hurt the trade value of that 6th man? Ideally, a deal is already in the works for someone and the team getting that guy won’t give a shit if we park him in the pen till the deal is done.

          • wax_eagle

            But what do we need?

            honestly the only real need I see for this club is a right handed late inning reliever and the only way we get one of those is to find one in house. No one who comes in will be any better than anyone we currently have.

            A bat would be nice, but the outfield is clogged and so is the infield (provided Rami isn’t seriously hurt and breaks out of this slump). Obviously starting pitching isn’t an issue right now and if it becomes one there are good in house options.

            Right now this club has a strength that i can exploit to get better for years to come without sacrificing this year (possibly even making this year’s team better). Its up to Hendry to figure out how to make this happen.

            • jstraw

              I’d be open to trading a surplus starter for a boatload of prospects and bring some young arms up from the minors for a look. We have to have some kids that can compete with Grabow and Howry for spots.

              • Jeff

                I don’t think any of the starters are currently worth a boatload of prospects in any other teams eyes. I would have to think that Dempster is the most valuable starting pitcher in terms of trade value right now, and no way would he be the one I would trade.
                Trading Silva or Gorzelany would for a setup guy would be nice, but would the Cubs get more than a few mid-level prospects for either of them? I would love to say that trading one of those two and a couple of our prospects would net say Heath Bell, but I’m not sure that other teams are as high on our pitchers as we are, they seem to be a very underrated bunch aside from Zambrano who is almost untradeable at this point.

                • jstraw

                  “I would love to say that trading one of those two and a couple of our prospects would net say Heath Bell…”

                  Me too, in a heartbeat.

  • jstraw

    Lou will do something weird and confounding. Book it.