Carlos Zambrano Set to Return to Rotation Next Week

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Carlos Zambrano Set to Return to Rotation Next Week

Chicago Cubs

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.

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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.