5/2 Could Big Z be a closer?
Could Carlos Zambrano be a closer?
On Sunday, it looked that way. The Cubs had what appeared to be a comfortable 10-2 lead against the D-backs when lefty John Grabow came in to finish the game. But Grabow gave up three quick runs on Stephen Drew’s two-run triple. That’s when Zambrano got up in the pen, and was greeted by cheers from the crowd of 38,144.
Justin Upton hit a RBI single to make it 10-5 and one out later, moved up on defensive indifference. But Grabow was able to strike out Chris Young and preserve the win for the Cubs.
Closer Carlos Marmol had pitched Friday and Saturday, and the second outing required him to throw 35 pitches. Marmol also turned his right ankle slightly when he stepped in a hole on the mound.
By not using Marmol on Sunday, Lou Piniella was able to give the right-hander two days off. And, if need be, Zambrano may be called on to close.
“[Marmol] threw 30-some pitches [Saturday], 20 some the day before,” Piniella said after Sunday’s game. “We had Carlos — Zambrano, I mean — ready to come in the ballgame if one other hitter had gotten on. That’s a luxury that the move we made gives us.”
The “move” was the decision to switch Zambrano from the rotation to the ‘pen. In four starts, Zambrano was 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA, including a loss on Opening Day. In three relief appearances, he has given up one run on five hits over four innings for a 2.25 ERA, and he has not allowed a run in his last two outings.
— Carrie Muskat