For the first time since 2004, someone other than Carlos Zambrano will start on Opening Day for the Chicago Cubs. Today, manager Mike Quade tapped Ryan Dempster to take the ball on April 1 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The decision comes after several sub-par performances on Opening Days past by Zambrano, who remains the “ace” of the staff in the minds of many. For that reason, and because Dempster has been the most consistent of the Cubs’ starters for three years now, the decision is the right one. Matt Garza may ultimately outpitch both Dempster and Zambrano, but he’s the new guy on the block. The Opening Day nod is a reward for Dempster, and a token one at that – all three will start in the series against the Pirates, with Zambrano following Dempster, and Garza following Zambrano.
Zambrano was reportedly OK with the decision when informed by Quade before Monday’s workout, and Dempster, for his part, was both humbled and excited. Zambrano even went so far as to tell Dempster that he was happy for him, which is, perhaps, the most important news of all.