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Cubs announce Ryan Dempster, not Carlos Zambrano, as Opening Day starter

Feb 21, 2011, 1:13 PM EDT

ryan-dempster-and-mike-quade Getty Images

Cubs manager Mike Quade announced this afternoon that Ryan Dempster will be the Opening Day starter, telling Carrie Muskat of MLB.com that he slept on the decision last night and let his “instinct” make the call.

Ultimately which pitcher takes the mound on Opening Day is mostly meaningless, as everyone in the rotation will be in line to start 32-34 games as long as they remain healthy all season, but Quade turning to Dempster is interesting given that Carlos Zambrano has drawn six straight Opening Day assignments for the Cubs.

Zambrano was demoted to the bullpen for a stretch last season and logged just 130 innings for the lowest workload since he was a 21-year-old rookie in 2002, but he was brilliant after rejoining the rotation in mid-August with an 8-0 record and 1.41 ERA in his final 11 starts. He finished with a 3.33 ERA overall, while Dempster had a 3.85 ERA in 215 innings.

Instead of starting Game 1 for the seventh consecutive season Zambrano will follow Dempster, with Matt Garza taking the mound in Game 3 after coming to the Cubs in an offseason trade with the Rays.

  1. Panda Claus - Feb 21, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Not sure why Quade felt an opening day starter needed to be announced five weeks out. Maybe after a couple of pre-season appearances under their belts, but I’m sure he had his reasons.

  2. normb11 - Feb 21, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    Wouldn’t it be smarter to start Randy Wells against the Pirates opening day so that the Cubs have a Dempster/Zambrano/Garza matchup against the Brewers a few days later?

  3. shawon0meter - Feb 21, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    I think the cubs had a better record against Pittsburgh than Milwaukee last season

  4. shawon0meter - Feb 21, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Oops I meant better against Milwaukee

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