MILWAUKEE -- Chicago manager Lou Piniella said the other day that Ryan Dempster will start Game 1 of the playoffs for the Cubs. Friday, he mapped out the rest of the Chicago rotation: Carlos Zambrano, who threw a no-hitter earlier this month, will start Game 2, followed by Rich Harden in Game 3 and Ted Lilly in Game 4.
Starting Dempster in Game 1 makes sense for two reasons: One, it's a reward for the man who successfully re-converted from closer back to starter and, so far, leads the Cubs in victories with 17.
Zambrano (14-6, 3.91 ERA) badly wants to start Game 1, but he historically has had difficulty controlling his emotions. No doubt, some of Piniella's decision hold Zambrano for the second game is partly related to the manager's ongoing effort to help Zambrano harness those emotions.
There is no guarantee that Zambrano won't be overly exuberant as he opens Game 2. But perhaps he'll work some of that out on the sidelines as Game 1 is played.
Harden (5-1, 1.77) and the left-handed Lilly (16-9, 4.17 ERA) will start the Cubs' two games on the road, Games 3 and 4.
Piniella has said all along that he has confidence in all four of his starters, and the fact that he's naming them now instead of working matchups when the Cubs find out who they'll be playing next week backs that up.
Now, all the Cubs need is an opponent.
If Milwaukee wins the NL wild-card, the Cubs will open their National League Divisional Series next week against the Los Angeles Dodgers.