Chicago Cubs: No. 41 – Carlos Zambrano
Overall, Carlos Zambrano had a good career with the Cubs. Yet it seems like he didn’t live up to his potential, that he could have been so much better, especially if he had been able to stay in command of his emotions.
While it was Kerry Wood and Mark Prior who got all the headlines for the up-and-coming Chicago Cubs rotation in the early 2000s, it was Zambrano who had the most established career, as the other two were injured too much to live up to expectations.
Zambrano’s first full season was in 2002, while he had a breakthrough in 2003 as a full-time starter for the first time, posting a 3.11 ERA in 32 starts for the National League Central champions.
Between 2004 and 2008, Zambrano had an ERA under 4.00 and won at least 14 games every year. By the time 2010 rolled around, Wood and Prior were long gone (though Wood would return to the Cubs as a middle reliever in 2011) and only Zambrano remained among the big three. Zambrano had a solid 2010, splitting time between the bullpen and the starting rotation, posting a 3.33 ERA, his lowest since 2005.
In 2011, Zambrano pitched in his final year with the Cubs, posting a 4.82 ERA and nine wins in 24 starts. He was one of many Cubs who left as part of the rebuild that started in 2012. Zambrano pitched one year with the Miami Marlins before his career fizzled out at just 31 years old.
He made headlines earlier this year when he attempted a comeback, pitching for the Chicago Dogs of the American Association. It remains to be seen whether he’ll get another shot in the major leagues.