Carlos Zambrano is apparently fine with the Cubs moving him to the bullpen … for now.
He reportedly told manager Lou Piniella that he’d like to rejoin the rotation in time for the playoffs, which is both interesting from a strategic standpoint and wishful thinking from a Cubs player.
Here’s what Piniella said about Zambrano’s request:
He did mention that. The playoffs are a long, long, long way away. Let’s just get through April right now. Let’s not put a time frame on it, let’s not do that. We need help in the eighth inning role right now and that’s what we’re trying to help ourselves in.
Zambrano is expected to be available out of the bullpen Saturday, which is when Ted Lilly comes off the disabled list to rejoin the rotation.
Piniella has made it clear that Zambrano will be used as Carlos Marmol’s primary setup man, working mostly in the eighth inning and for just one inning at a time. “We want to use him short and we want to use Marmol short,” Piniella said. “An inning, or an inning and a third.”
I’d still probably bet on Zambrano ending up with more starts than relief appearances this season.
Jon Morosi reports that the Blue Jays and starter Marco Estrada are nearing an agreement on a contract extension. The deal is expected to be for one guaranteed year, Morosi adds.
Estrada, 34, was set to become a free agent after the season. He earned $26 million on a two-year contract signed with the Jays in November 2015. While the right-hander has a subpar 4.84 ERA on the season, he has a solid 170/67 K/BB ratio in 176 2/3 innings and has looked much better since the end of July. Between July 31 and his most recent start on Saturday, Estrada owns a 3.75 ERA.
J.A. Happ is the only other starter technically under contract with the Jays next season. Marcus Stroman will be eligible for his second year of arbitration and the Jays will certainly agree to give him a raise on his $3.4 million salary for the 2017 season. The Jays will likely be active this offseason in adding rotation help and they’re starting early by locking up Estrada.
Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. robbed Orioles first baseman Chris Davis of his 25th home run on Tuesday evening, leaping at the fence in center field to make the catch and keep the game scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Davis swung at the first pitch he saw from Drew Pomeranz, a slider that crossed the middle of the plate.
This game has potential playoff implications, as the first-place Red Sox hold a three-game lead over the Yankees in the NL East. Meanwhile, the Orioles are still in the AL Wild Card race, trailing the Twins by 5.5 games for the second Wild Card slot.