Now that the Cubs’ starters are struggling as much as their relievers Lou Piniella was asked yesterday whether he’s considered moving Carlos Zambrano back into the rotation:
No, right now we need Carlos right where he’s at. We asked Carlos to do something that would help this team, and it’s helped this team. If you don’t hold onto leads late in the game, it has a lasting effect on the team.
Which is funny, because a) if you don’t have any late leads to protect that also has a lasting effect on the team, and b) Zambrano hasn’t exactly pitched brilliantly out of the bullpen. Zambrano has allowed three runs in six innings as a reliever, with opponents batting .346 against him. He’s also allowed three of his six inherited runners score, which while not reflected in ERA is certainly a big part of relief value.
He’s been decent as a reliever so far, but no one moves a pitcher making $18 million to the bullpen just so he can be decent and Zambrano has thrown just six innings in a 17-day stretch when he would have started three times. All of which is why it was silly to take a perfectly good starting pitcher capable of logging 200-plus innings and move him into a 70-inning role.