On pace for a career year, Ted Lilly has been outstanding, aside from a rough patch in late May and early June. He's striking out a lot of batters, walking very few, and keeping the ball in the ballpark at a rate better than that of any other season. So far, Lilly is shaping up as a great signing.
Carlos Marmol | 0.96 ERA | 1.00 WHIP | .180 BAA | 14.5 VORP
Based on results alone, it's hard to believe this is the same pitcher who finished 2006 with an ERA over six. Marmol's stuff was always good, but out of the bullpen it's been explosive. And the poor control that plagued him as a starter appears mostly resolved (10 BB vs. 40 K). The Cubs' closer of the future?
Jason Marquis | 3.67 ERA | 1.26 WHIP | .231 BAA | 14.3 VORP
Ok, I'll admit it: I've been flat out wrong about Marquis. He's had a few bad starts, as even the best do, but Marquis has been one of the team's most dependable starters, solid if unspectacular. He's still not striking out batters (62 in 105.1 innings), but that hasn't hindered his success.
Sean Marshall | 3.48 ERA | 1.28 WHIP | .249 BAA | 10.8 VORP
Like Marmol, Marshall has blossomed in his sophomore season, one of the few good things to come out of a disastrous 2006. After hurting his arm early in the year and toiling (and dominating) in the minors for several months, Marshall has thrown quality starts in six of his nine starts.
Ryan Dempster | 3.38 ERA | 1.01 WHIP | .178 BAA | 8.8 VORP
After a 2006 that looked very much in line with his career numbers, Dempster has rebounded nicely in 2007. He's back to striking out nearly a batter per inning, the Cubs' closer is walking the fewest batters per nine of his career, and his WHIP has never been lower.
After strong performances during the 2006 season (Double-A) and the Cubs' 2007 spring training, Cherry made a name for himself in the organization. When he's been healthy, he's done well though not without a few hiccups. Still, his first-half performance certainly is a pleasant surprise from a 28-year-old that had played in only two games above Double-A at season's beginning.
Carlos Zambrano | 4.03 ERA | 1.30 WHIP | .235 BAA | 19.8 VORP
Despite an outstanding June and early July, Zambrano is still a slight disappointment. He was expected to be the Cubs' top pitcher, and for the first few months of the year, he wasn't. His walk rate is down, but so are his strikeouts. His home runs allowed and batting average against are up. A half-season of a bipolar Zambrano was not the expectation for a pitcher who wanted $100 million this spring.
When Guzman has pitched, he's done fairly well, with a few good starts and relief appearances. The key there being "when." With just over 30 innings on the season, Guzman still hasn't shown he can avoid the injuries that slowed his ascent to the majors. It doesn't matter how much talent you have if you can't stay on the field, it's irrelevant. Just ask Mark Prior or Rich Harden.
Scott Eyre | 6.60 ERA | 2.13 WHIP | .350 BAA | -2.9 VORP
Eyre's 2006 season + Eyre's 2007 season = disappointment. Enough said.
Wade Miller | 10.54 ERA | 2.20 WHIP | .381 BAA | -7.0 VORP
Miller had a decent spring after a not-so-decent 2006. Most fans figured it would only be a matter of time before Miller played himself out of the rotation and let Angel Guzman in. In fact, not even the harshest prediction (ZiPS, in this case) thought Miller's ERA would be over five. Instead, Miller lasted three starts, then (thankfully) hit the DL. Disappointing, even by the lowest of standards.
JUST ABOUT WHAT WE EXPECTED
Rich Hill | 3.81 ERA | 1.14 WHIP | .227 BAA | 20.0 VORP
Hill has had his ups and downs, but the lanky lefty has largely been a sturdy presence in the Cubs' rotation. And, after an impressive second half in 2006, that should come as no surprise. Only Ted Lilly has a higher VORP among Cub pitchers.
Michael Wuertz | 3.40 ERA | 1.31 WHIP | .227 BAA | 9.9 VORP
With 41 games under his belt in 2007, Wuertz has matched his appearance total from 2006. And, with the exception of ERA, he's duplicated that performance in nearly every way: Hits (35 in 2006 vs. 34 in 2007), home runs (5 vs. 5), walks (16 vs. 18), strikeouts (42 vs. 35), WHIP (1.25 vs. 1.31), batting average against (.226 vs. .227). Nothing surprising or disappointing here; Wuertz is one of the team's most dependable relievers.
Will Ohman | 4.15 ERA | 1.38 WHIP | .252 BAA | 4.4 VORP
Thanks to a recent strong showing after early-season struggles, Ohman has an ERA nearly identical to the one he posted in 2006. Nobody expected greatness, only a bearable left-handed arm and that's what the Cubs have gotten.
Cotts was bad in 2006 and, surprise, surprise, was bad in 2007 before being banished to the minors. Not that acquiring Cotts really cost the Cubs anything; David Aardsma, whom Cotts was exchanged for, played even worse.