The 2009 Chicago Cubs can’t catch a break – unless that break is in a tibia.
Pitcher Carlos Zambrano left yesterday’s game with a strained hamstring after legging out a bunt, and reportedly had an MRI late last night. The results have not yet been released, but manager Lou Piniella has already said that Zambrano is highly unlikely to make his next scheduled start – Friday against the Brewers.
Hopefully Zambrano’s injury is minor, and we can chalk a week or two out up to extra rest that it’s nice to give Zambrano anyway. Let’s not forget – he did have shoulder problems last year.
So who replaces Z on Friday if he’s out? The popular wisdom is that it won’t be Jeff Samardzija, who is now a full-time member of the bullpen. But if the Cubs don’t want to place anyone on the disabled list, the replacement is going to have to come from the current 25-man roster – and Samardzija looks as likely as anyone. Another possibility is Aaron Heilman, whom the Cubs were grooming to start before Sean Marshall outdueled him in Spring Training.
If Zambrano (or someone else) heads to the DL, the Cubs are likely to call up a starter from AAA Iowa to take Z’s turn in the rotation. That means it could be Mitch Atkins (struggled in ST and early in the season, but has been solid lately), Esmailin Caridad, or Jose Ascanio (who’s been tearin’ it up).
But Bruce Miles says it will be Spring Training stand out Randy Wells.
Most likely, the Cubs will call down to Iowa, with righty Randy Wells likely being the leading candidate. Wells, a 2002 draft pick by the Cubs, had cups of coffee in the bigs last year with Toronto early and the Cubs later after they reacquired him.
At Iowa, Wells is 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA and a WHIP (walks plus hits per 1 inning pitched) of 1.09.
Fortunately, Iowa has had the last two games rained out, so if they need to rearrange their rotation to accommodate a promotion, it could easily be done. Keeps your eyes on who pitches early this week for Iowa – if a guy goes, you know he’s not the one getting the call.