Chicago Cubs: Looking Forward to 2010 … The Pitching Staff

Monday it was the Starting Eight, next up on the CCO’s look at the early projections for 2010 … Lou Piniella’s pitching staff. Not only will the starting rotation for the 2010 version of the Chicago Cubs have a couple of changes, the Cubs’ pen appears to be headed for another off-season overhaul.

Part Two: The Pitching Staff

Reportedly Rich Harden will not be back or offered arbitration then there is Ted Lilly’s shoulder surgery. Lilly will begin the season on the DL and is expected to return at some point in late April. Jim Hendry has publicly stated that he will use internal options to fill Lilly’s void … but again, the Cubs must have a backup plan in case (which is very likely) Lilly’s return is delayed into May or June

Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster are expected to anchor the staff but with Ted Lilly on the shelf the Cubs will begin the year without their most reliable pitcher since the break in 2008. Randy Wells did an excellent job in 2009. From his health, the Cubs only starter not to spend time on the DL, to his performance, Wells put together an tremendous first year. But right now, Randy Wells should be competing for a fourth or fifth spot on a team expected to compete for a division crown … not to be depended on as a third starter in the team’s rotation.

Here are the projected numbers for 2010, along with actual numbers from 2009, for Lou Piniella’s starting rotation.

2010projections-starters.jpg
(Click on Image to Enlarge)

  • K/9 – Strikeouts per 9 Innings
  • BB/9 – Walks per 9 Innings
  • BABIP – Batting Average on Balls in Play
  • WHIP – Walks + Hits divided by Innings Pitches
  • FIP – Fielder Independent Pitching on an ERA scale

Full Projections from Fangraphs.com
Stat Explanations from Fangraphs.com

Bill James is projecting Carlos Zambrano to post three more wins next season and Ryan Dempster to pretty much break even … one more win and one more loss. Ted Lilly and Randy Wells are projected to take a couple of steps back next season.

According to the projections, Jeff Samardzija (2), Sean Marshall (9) and Tom Gorzelanny (14) will make 25 starts next season.

The eight pitchers above accounted for 52 of the Cubs 83 wins in 2009 (three of Gorzelanny’s wins came in a Pirates’ uniform). Bill James is predicting the same eight pitchers to post at least 56 wins in 2010.

Lou Piniella figures to begin 2010 with a very different bullpen than he had for a majority of 2009 … and it could be a very young and inexperienced pen. Gone is Kevin Gregg, he is not expected to return and Carlos Marmol will anchor the pen as the Cubs’ closer. John Grabow figures to be the elder statesman of the bullpen at the beginning of 2010.

2010projections-bullpen.jpg
(Click on Image to Enlarge)

  • K/9 – Strikeouts per 9 Innings
  • BB/9 – Walks per 9 Innings
  • BABIP – Batting Average on Balls in Play
  • WHIP – Walks + Hits divided by Innings Pitches
  • FIP - Fielder Independent Pitching on an ERA scale

Full Projections from Fangraphs.com
Stat Explanations from Fangraphs.com

Other than Carlos Marmol, the projections for 2010 do not look favorable but at the same time with all of the young arms no one is sure how they will perform. John Gaub and Blake Parker figure to play a roll with the big league team at some point next year.

Bill James is projecting Carlos Marmol, John Grabow, Angel Guzman and Esmailin Caridad to post at least 14 wins.

While many are focused on the Cubs improving their offense this winter, the pitching staff has a lot of question marks and inexperience … and could be a couple of arms away from having a solid staff.

Coming Soon:

  • Part Three: The Reserves and Rumored Additions

Part One: The Starting Eight

Quote of the Day

"The man says 'play ball' not 'work ball,' you know." - Willie Stargell
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