No. 5 (and 4) Starter Watch: Cubs

Hey, somebody has to care about this stuff, right?

    Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced his rotation Friday to begin the 2010 season, and as expected, Tom Gorzelanny and Carlos Silva will fill out the starting spots.


    Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall will go to the bullpen as long relievers or potential starters in case of injury.

    "The thing I'm happiest about is we sent nobody to the minor leagues," Piniella said. "They went from the rotation to the bullpen.

    "Remember, when we set this competition up, we didn't know [Angel] Guzman would be out for a whole year and [Jeff] Gray would be hurt."

    Piniella said Samardzija was hoping for a starting spot.

    "He was a little disappointed," Piniella said. "He thought he had pitched well enough in spring training to stay in the rotation. I agreed with him. But unfortunately, we only have two spots.

    "And then remember, [Ted] Lilly is ahead of schedule. In three weeks from now, we're going to have to make a decision again. With that in mind, let's put Marshall and Samardizja in places where they can help our baseball team."

Perfect example of how unimportant the No. 5 starter -- as designated in late March -- can be (not that this stops me from obsessing over them). Sure, it's Silva and Gorzelanny ... but only until Ted Lilly's ready to take his turn.

Gorzelanny and Marshall are both 27. Tom's got a 4.78 ERA; Sean, 4.86. Tom's got a 1.55 strikeout-to-walk ratio; Sean, 1.79. Neither of them throws particularly hard, though Marshall's a bit more of a junkballer, specializing in a big curveball. Oddly, it's Gorzelanny who's shown the much larger platoon split, which does argue against his case as a starting pitcher.

My guess is that Marshall will get his chance to start, as he has in each of the last four seasons. But between Marshall and Gorzelanny and Silva, it's not likely that a pennant will be won or lost.