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That's My Carlos
by Derek Smart
Nice work from Big Z last night against a pretty decent lineup from Puerto Rico, going 4 innings and only giving up 2 hits (both singles) and 2 walks, while getting 5 strikeouts. Both hits were the only squarely hit balls Zambrano gave up, and both were smacked by Ivan Rodriguez, who just looked like he had Carlos all figured out.
No one else did, though, as Z recovered nicely from his sub-par, jacked-up outing last week against the Dominicans. He was a bit shaky in the first, having some trouble finding his arm-slot, and thus, finding the plate, but he settled in nicely for his last three frames. However, even when he was struggling a bit early on, he was mostly missing down and to the outside or inside, rather than missing up or over the plate.
If there was a downside to the outing, is was that it took 71 pitches for him to make it through those four innings, mostly due to his first frame struggles (I think he'd thrown 25 after one, but don't quote me on it). That still looks to be a huge issue for Z and the rest of the Cubs' big arms - economy - and until he learns to tighten up his starts, Carlos will risk coming up short of his potential.