Ted Lilly to Return on Saturday, Big Decisions Looming

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Ted Lilly to Return on Saturday, Big Decisions Looming

Chicago Cubs

As we learned late last week, the plan for Chicago Cubs starter Ted Lilly is to have one more rehab start – tonight for A ball Peoria – and then to join the Cubs late this week, with an eye toward starting against the Brewers on Saturday. And his return could mean big things for the rest of the Cubs’ staff, including the bullpen.

Lilly’s return will trigger several corresponding moves, including moving a player to make a roster spot available and sending one of the starters to the bullpen. Though Tom Gorzelanny, another left-hander, might seem the likely choice, moving him to the bullpen would mean four lefties — Gorzelanny, Marshall, James Russell and John Grabow — in a relief corps of seven.

”I don’t know who’s going to the bullpen,” Piniella said. ”I won’t make any guesses yet. It hasn’t been discussed too much. We’ve been waiting for Lilly to be ready. Let’s wait until after he pitches [tonight].” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

If Carlos Silva pitches well again this week, it’s hard imagine he’ll be bumped from the rotation. Then again, if Gorzelanny has a dominant outing and Silva lays an egg, there’s a chance Gorzelanny will get the call – of course, this highlights how difficult it is to make this kind of decision based on just a handful of starts.

In fact, I think those starts probably won’t make the decision so much as how Lou Piniella thinks the placement of the pitchers will help the team. Just as Sean Marshall was the best pitcher in Spring Training, but clearly had no meaningful shot to make the rotation because of his abilities in the bullpen, so too might Lou decide to bump whichever guy he’d rather see in the pen.

As for who heads out from the pen, it will probably depend on which starter is moved. If it’s Gorzelanny, it’s hard to imagine the Cubs retaining four lefties in a pen of seven – which would mean successful youngster James Russell would get bumped (because it won’t be Marshall or John Grabow). The guys who probably should be under consideration are Justin Berg and Jeff Samardzija, neither of whom has been effective on the young season.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.