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Now that Ted Lilly is off to greener pastures in Los Angeles, the Chicago Cubs will need a new starter in their rotation. The obvious long-term choice is Carlos Zambrano, but he’s neither stretched out nor pitching effectively, so, despite his protests, he’ll remain in the bullpen for at least a little while longer.

In the interim, the Cubs will call up AAA Iowa starter, and former stud prospect, Thomas Diamond to join the rotation on Tuesday. Diamond was the Texas Rangers’ first-round pick in 2004, but went under the Tommy John knife in 2007.

This season at Iowa, Diamond is 5-4 with a 3.16 ERA in 21 starts and has struck out 104 in 108 1/3 innings. Opposing teams were batting .218 off the right-hander.

Before his Tommy John surgery, Diamond was a top 100 prospect in all of baseball. But since then he’s had a couple crappy years for a couple teams. Diamond has had a resurgent year with the Cubs, to be sure, but questions persist about whether he’s finally got it together, or whether he’s a career AAA player about whom the teams that have released him were right.

Interesting that he got the call over fellow AAA’er Jeff Samardzija (to say nothing of true prospect Jay Jackson or bullpen roustabout Andrew Cashner). Samardzija has thrown very well at AAA since being banished from the big club, but is rarely discussed and is apparently not at the top of the team’s list of future starters.

He’s certainly earned his share of cold-shouldering, what with his bad attitude and crummy secondary pitches, but it still seems cruel to pass Samardzija over during Shark Week. Ba dum ching.

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