Chicago Cubs News

Poll Of The Week: Opening Day Starter


If you thought we were done talking about Matt Garza, you thought wrong. As with the trade of Matt Garza, it creates a very intriguing question- one that every manager would love to have- for Mike Quade and that is who should be the opening day starter for the Chicago Cubs?

For most of this past decade, the Cubs opening day starter was essentially a lock. Despite notoriously struggling on opening day, the Cubs have continued to give the ball to Carlos Zambrano to start the season. However after Zambrano imploded on opening day last season against the Atlanta Braves, it became clear that the Cubs have to go with a different pitcher for opening day. Throughout the off-season the belief was that Ryan Dempster would be the opening day starter, but newly acquired Matt Garza might get the nod over Dempster. Even with his poor performance on opening days, Carlos Zambrano is also in the mix to be the Opening Day starter.

Here is my take on the candidates…

Ryan Dempster- If anything, Dempster has been the most consistent starter for the Cubs in recent years. Last year, Dempster was essentially the “ace”- and I use that term loosely- for the Cubs. Dempster went 15-12 with an ERA of 3.85, and a WAR of 3.5. You could argue that Dempster may be the most deserving of the start, considering how well he has performed behind Carlos Zambrano.

Matt Garza- Having pitched in the vaunting American League East, Matt Garza has earned the reputation of a big game pitcher. Garza seems to enjoy pitching in pressure situations, most notably during the Rays World Series run in 2008. In 2010, Garza had a record of 15-10 with an ERA of 3.91, and a WAR of 1.8. Yes, I know that WAR is not where most would want it to be, but that figures to increase with the move to the National League.

Carlos Zambrano- There is no question that of all the Cubs starting pitchers, Carlos Zambrano has the best arsenal of pitches. But, his temper has hindered his chances of becoming the ace that he should be. Last season was the perfect example, as it was the story of two halves. Thanks to his dominant run to end the season, Zambrano’s production turned out somewhat respectable as he had a record of 11-6 with an ERA of 3.33, and a WAR of 2.4.

As of now, I am leaning towards Matt Garza as my opening day starter. To be honest, a lot of people will bring up saber-metrics as to why he may not perform well, but I throw all of that stuff out. Garza has succeeded in the toughest division in baseball, and many believe he is on the doorsteps of becoming an elite pitcher. I think Garza will blossom into the ace of the Cubs rotation this year, which is why I think he should get the nod on opening day.

Who do you think should get the nod?