5/23 Probable pitchers

Looking ahead to the Cubs’ upcoming homestand, only one starting pitcher is set and that’s Ryan Dempster, who will go Tuesday in the series opener against the Dodgers. Carlos Zambrano will throw a simulated game on Monday, an off day for the rest of the team, at Wrigley Field, but even if he passes all the tests on Tuesday, he won’t be ready to go in the rotation until the weekend series against the Cardinals.

The Cubs need to see Tom Gorzelanny to make sure his left hand is OK. He was struck on the left ring finger in his last start in Philadelphia Thursday and did throw a bullpen session Saturday in Chicago. However, pitching coach Larry Rothschild probably wants to see the lefty first-hand to know if he’s OK. Gorzelanny had gone home to be with his wife, who gave birth to the couple’s first child on Friday.

The Cubs could have Dempster, Gorzelanny and either Randy Wells or Ted Lilly face the Dodgers at Wrigley. Inserting Wells on Thursday would keep him on schedule and break up the lefties. With the off day, everyone will have plenty of rest.

There are two downsides to Zambrano returning to the rotation: One, the Cubs will be short-handed in the ‘pen while he’s prepping, and two, the team loses a very effective late inning pitcher in the process. Big Z has been very effective lately. But don’t be surprised if Zambrano says he’s ready for the upcoming weekend series against the Cardinals.

— Carrie Muskat

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