Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano has struggled this season in more ways than one. Through 70 innings — 11 starts, 16 relief appearances — he has posted a 5.27 ERA, 1.77 WHIP and 38 walks against 63 strikeouts. Oh, and there was that little incident back in June that cost him a month.
Perhaps some progress was made on Saturday. Big Z limited the division rival Cardinals to two earned runs over 5.2 innings on a steamy day at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, allowing his Cubs to grab a 3-2 victory. He struck out three batters and issued only two walks.
As the Associated Press notes, it was his first victory since June 20. It was also his first sign of life since his team-issued suspension.
Zambrano is owed $18 million annually through 2014, which will make a trade or any type of move extremely difficult. Essentially, the Cubbies are stuck with him. So they might as well throw him into the fire and see if he can settle in as a reliable third or fourth starter. Hey, every good team has a few innings eaters.
The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.
The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.
Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.
The matchups for Tuesday’s action:
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.
Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.
The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.