By Danny Moran
As the highly anticipated 3 p.m. trade deadline approaches, the Cubs could be set to jettison at least one of their top pitchers in order to help build for the future. But an offseason trade of their former ace is proving to be one of the club's biggest additions, mainly by subtraction.
Carlos Zambrano, who was traded to the Miami Marlins for Chris Volstad during the offseason, was demoted to the bullpen on Monday. Zambrano relieved another former Chicago pitcher, Mark Buehrle, in the fifth inning of the team's Monday night loss to the Atlanta Braves. Big Z completed the fifth and sixth innings in his first relief appearance since 2010, when he returned from a suspension for a dugout tirade.
He did not allow an earned run on Monday but did allow a single that scored two runners Buehrle left on base and allowed an unearned run in the sixth after a Jose Reyes error kept the inning alive.
The Marlins are in the midst of a disappointing season for a team that had hoped to contend for the National League playoffs this season with Zambrano as a member of their starting rotation.
The 31-year-old Zambrano had struggled as Miami's fourth starter. He was 5-9 with a 4.54 ERA, which puts him behind four of the main members Cubs rotation, including the recently-traded Paul Maholm. Zambrano had also only thrown more than six innings twice over the past two months. During that two-month stretch, his ERA was an alarming 6.61.
Volstad, however, has performed far worse than Zambrano this season. He is 0-7 this season with a 7.94 ERA and he has not made an appearance as a Cub since July 3 against the Atlanta Braves. He is not currently on the team's active roster.