Carlos Zambrano had a problem-free bullpen session yesterday, clearing the path for him to return from the disabled list when eligible tomorrow against the Marlins.
Zambrano has been out since July 1 with a lower back injury, but allowed zero earned runs over four innings in a rehab start last Friday at Single-A and will slot in behind Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster in the Cubs’ second-half rotation.
While he wasn’t particularly effective before the injury, posting a career-worst 4.34 ERA in 18 starts, Zambrano’s return will be a big help to the Cubs if only because it presumably will bump Ramon Ortiz from the rotation after the 38-year-old predictably went 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in a pair of fill-in starts.
Ortiz simply doesn’t belong in the majors at this point, although in fairness I’ve been writing that since around 2007 and he’s earned about $5 million while throwing 144 innings during that time. With a 5.75 ERA, of course.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.