Here’s the final installment, the pitchers.
Carlos Zambrano: 5-4 3.85 ERA B
Zambrano hasn’t been quite as good this year as last, but he’s still been solid, and you can count on him to go to take the ball every five days, which is a big deal when you consider the track record of most of our other starters. At the beginning of the year, Carlos looked like he was going to be as crazy as ever, getting ejected from two starts, but it looks like he’s settling down. I wish he’d work on conserving his pitches though.
Mark Prior: 5-2 2.68 ERA A-
Prior would earn higher marks from me if he’d make all his starts. Still, he missed only a couple of turns because of the spring training set backs, and there wasn’t much he could do about the line drive that hit his arm. In between all that, Prior was mostly outstanding, with his only really bad start of the first half coming against Houston.
Kerry Wood: 1-2: 5.30 ERA C-
Like clockwork, Kerry Wood went on the disabled list early this season due to shoulder pain, likely caused by his mechanics. I don’t like to lower a guy down because of injury, but Wood’s injuries seem to in part due to his own unwillingness to even experiment with his delivery. Then there’s the fact that Wood hasn’t been very effective when he has been able to take the ball this year, and it doesn’t add up to a good grade for Kerry.
Greg Maddux: 7-5 4.87 ERA B-
I think we know what to expect from Maddux at this stage. He’s going to make every start, and most of the time give the team 6 solid innings. He’ll be occasionally brilliant, and he’ll have a few starts where he gets absolutely rocked. He’s gotten rocked a few more times than I’d like so far, but grading him at mid season seems almost futile, since he’s been such a good second half pitcher the last few years.
Glendon Rusch: 5-3 3.35 ERA B+
Rusch has done a good job pitching both in the rotation and out of the bullpen. Frankly, I think he’s better as a starter, since it seems to take him a bit to find a rhythm out of the bullpen, and I don’t feel comfortable seeing him come in to pitch with men already on base. He’s a good long reliever, though, and between Wood and Prior’s injuries, Zambrano’s ejections and Maddux’s occasional self destructions, that could prove invaluable to this team.
Ryan Dempster: 2-3 4.15 ERA 12 saves B+
Dempster’s been two different pitchers this season. He was announced as the closer in spring training, then was pushed into the starting rotation due to injuries. He wasn’t great a starter, but since being handed the closer’s role, he’s saved 12 straight. As closer, he’s done it all, pitching the 8th and 9th, pitching out of jams, and keeping his cool no matter what. He gets an A, as closer and a C as a starter, with bonus points for being a good soldier and not complaining when he was bounced between the bullpen and rotation.
The Rest (Wuertz, Remlinger, Wellemeyer*, Novoa, Hill*, Hawkins**, Bartosh*, Mitre, Fox#, Ohman, Borowski^, Leicester*) D+
It seems like it’s been a cast of thousands in the bullpen this year, and the whole crew seems to swing from being lights out one week, to absolutely terrible the next. I’ve heard some people blame Dusty Baker, because his seemingly random use of his relievers means they don’t know what their role is. However, I can’t blame Dusty for that, as none of these guys has stepped up his performance enough to seize a particular job (setup man, long man, LOOGY) for himself. The good news is, all these guys have shown at some point that they can pitch. The bad news is, they rarely show it two outings in a row. The worst news is, the Cubs season may hinge on their performance.
* sent to AAA Iowa
** Traded to San Francisco Giants