By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 22, 2007 3:15PM
So just what, exactly, is Ryan Dempster's role on the Cubs' pitching staff? Not even Ryan himself seems to know.
On Sunday, Dempster told the media that while having lost his closers' job he was moving into the starting rotation. However, Cubs manager Lou Piniella immediately told him that plan was on hold. Joking about the flip-flop, Dempster told reporters, "I've got a headline for you. Dempster taken out of rotation after one non-start."
While he feels he's ready to jump right into the rotation, Cubs management has legitimate concerns about his endurance after working from the bullpen for the past few seasons. And were his numbers as a starter really all that good anyway? His ERA as a starter hasn't been below 4.00 since 2000, when he went 14-10 with the Florida Marlins.
Instead, the Cubs are expected to call up Sean Marshall from AAA Iowa to fill the need for a fifth starter, taking the roster spot of Neal Cotts -- who was sent down to the minors on Monday.
What is certain is that Ryan Dempster is still not the closer any longer. Dempster is supposed to mentor Angel Guzman as he assumes the roll. Is Guzman ready for that pressure? He's been a starter thus far, and has yet to even win a game in 13 career starts. On the other hand, he does have a 3.18 ERA on the season, which a hell of a lot better than any of the others in the Cubs' bullpen -- besides Michael Wuertz and his 1.86 ERA. So why not give Wuertz the first shot? We have a feeling that last week's game-winning walk -- along with his 10 BBs in 19 innings -- might have something to do with it.
We suspect that Piniella will ultimately go through a number of pitchers in the closers' role before he finally settles on somebody, Jim Hendry lands a real closer in a trade, or they simply give the job back to Ryan Dempster.
Photo via ChicagoCubs.com