Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs' new front office likely aren't expecting much in 2012 from the volatile Carlos Zambrano. But the Cubs veteran is under contract, and if he can return to anywhere near his old self, it would be a major boost to Chicago's starting rotation.
Zambrano has been pitching regularly this off season in the Venezuelan Winter League, and last night he took the hill for Caribes, throwing 4.1 innings in the start. Zambrano gave up only one run, but allowed six hits and three walks, and only struck out two, in 20 batters faced. It's the last number that should be most troubling, as a pitcher of Zambrano's caliber should be able to overpower more than 10% of the batters he faces in an off season winter league.
In 2011, Zambrano threw 145.2 innings for the Cubs, allowing 154 hits while striking out 101 and walking 56. His ERA was 4.82, the highest of his career.
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