Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
39-Year-Old PitcherRP
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2020 Fantasy Outlook
There was no outlook written for Carlos Zambrano in 2020. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
$Agreed to a minor league contract with the Phillies in May of 2013.
Reviving career in indy ball
PFree Agent  
April 16, 2019
Zambrano agreed to a contract Monday with the Chicago Dogs of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
After not pitching anywhere in the United States since 2013, Zambrano appeared to be retired before he resurfaced in the Mexican League last fall and then tossed 29.1 frames in the Venezuelan Winter League. The 37-year-old didn't find much success in either of the foreign leagues, but it won't prevent him from attempting to revive his career in the city where he enjoyed his best seasons in the majors. Zambrano plans to report to the Dogs on May 2 for his physical and will work out of the bullpen once his contract is official. Despite his poor results in Venezuela, the right-hander sported a fastball that regularly checked in at 94 miles per hour, leaving him optimistic that he still has something left in the tank.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Zambrano's remarkable resurgence in Miami lasted quite a bit longer than many expected. The hot-headed righty posted a 2.81 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over his first 73.2 innings (11 starts) before he derailed. Zambrano floundered in the rotation for a bit before Miami mercifully moved him into the bullpen, making him the most grossly overpaid middle reliever in the league. Despite his $19.25 million salary in 2013, Zambrano’s days an effective starter appear to be over. It remains to be seen whether the Marlins will even give him a fair shot to compete for a rotation spot rather than letting some of their younger talent gain some much needed experience.
Other than maybe Albert Haynesworth, Zambrano has to be the most disgruntled overpaid person on the planet. Despite undergoing anger management counseling in seasons past, Zambrano stormed out of the clubhouse after being shelled and ejected from a game in August and was subsequently suspended from the team. To that point, Zambrano was pitching like a serviceable back of the rotation starter, not very effectively eating innings and giving up more home runs than he had in the past. It wasn't surprising that he was traded to Miami in the offseason with the Cubs willing to eat a significant portion of the $18 million he's owed in 2012, the last year of his current deal. Zambrano has apparently worked hard during the offseason in Venezuela, and won't turn 31 until June. But with his fastball down to 90 mph, and his strikeout and home-run rates trending the wrong way, a full bounce back would be surprising.
After a demotion to the bullpen and then a suspension for acting out after a bad inning (with requisite anger management classes), Zambrano got a chance to return to the team's rotation in August when Carlos Silva got hurt and Ted Lilly got traded. He made the most of it, with eight wins and a 1.41 ERA over his last 11 starts. Of course, the 63:43 K:BB ratio over that 73.1-inning span means Zambrano's success was largely BABIP driven (that and allowing just one home run) and hence probably unsustainable. Nonetheless, Zambrano struck out more than eight batters per nine innings for the second straight year, typically keeps the ball in the park and has been one of the rare pitchers able to generate consistently lower-than-normal BABIP rates over his career. In other words, his late-season run probably wasn't all luck, and, if nothing else, it's put him firmly in the team's rotation plans for 2011.
Back and hamstring problems cost Zambrano seven starts, but lost amid the injuries and the Cubs' poor season was his return to eight-plus strikeouts per nine innings, a rate he hadn't posted since 2006. The walk rate was still high as usual, but Zambrano allowed only 10 home runs in 169.1 innings which greatly mitigates the damage from free passes. It's worth noting Zambrano had consistently posted well below-.300 BABIP allowed numbers for his entire career, suggesting he possessed a rare hit-prevention skill apart from the standard peripheral numbers. But in 2009, his BABIP allowed was .308, ending that remarkable run. Still, given his home-runs-allowed decline, it's hard to argue he was hit harder than usual last year. After two disappointing fantasy seasons, Zambrano may no longer the marquee name he once was, but his skills are largely intact, and he could be a bargain if he slides in your drafts.
Perhaps Zambrano's heavy workloads are finally catching up to him. A mild shoulder strain sent him to the DL in June, and he experienced shoulder tendinitis in September. Also troubling is his rapidly declining strikeout rate which went from 8.8/9IP in 2006 to 7.4 in 2007 to 6.2 last year. When you walk as many batters as Zambrano does, you need to miss bats to have any margin for error. Moreover, Zambrano especially struggled down the stretch - with a 34:25 K:BB ratio and an 7.28 ERA in 47 August and September innings. On the positive side, Zambrano retained his customarily low BABIP, and he did a good job of keeping the ball in the park.
For the second year in a row, Zambrano got off to a terrible start, only to right the ship in May and finish with numbers roughly in line with his career. The decline in his strikeout rate is something to keep an eye on, though -- 8.83 per nine innings in '06 to 7.36 in '07 - especially given all the walks Zambrano issues every year. It could be that the heavy workload he shouldered early in his career is finally catching up to him. In any event, he'll again open the year as the Cubs' No. 1 starter.
The Cubs' ace bumped up his strikeout rate to nearly a batter per inning, but he also led the National League in walks by a wide margin with 115. Zambrano gets away with the high walk totals year after year in part because he allows so few hits to drop in. While hit rates on balls in play are a product of luck for many pitchers and vary widely from year to year, Zambrano's consistently low rates (even relative to his strikeout numbers) make us inclined to think he can repeat them. He’s been one of the most durable pitchers in the league over the last several seasons: despite a heavy workload at a young age, he's logged four straight seasons of 200 IP. Back spasms sidelined him for much of September, but he managed to return for his last three starts. There's no reason to think he won't be completely healthy for the start of 2007.
Zambrano picked up in 2005 where he left off in 2004, striking hitters out at a good clip, while walking a few more hitters than we'd like, but largely getting away with it. The modest jump in Zambrano's ERA was largely due to seven extra long balls allowed in only a few more innings. Despite having endured a heavy workload at a young age, Zambrano has held up well, logging more than 200 innings for three straight years. He did give up seven of his 21 long balls in September, but his other numbers were very much in line with his season long stats, and he actually pitched better after the All-Star break than before it.
After a promising 2003, Zambrano added 20 strikeouts, subtracted 13 walks and finished fifth in NL Cy Young voting in 2004. Moreover, he continued to be very stingy with hits and home runs. The one worry with Zambrano is a workload of 434 IP over the last two seasons, which is a lot for a guy who won't turn 24 until June. But his second half was almost identical to his first half last year, and he was 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA in September, so there were no signs of arm wear down the stretch.
Zambrano may have been the best number four starter in baseball last season, with 13 wins and a 3.11 ERA in 214 innings. But despite the nice cosmetic numbers and the mid-to-high 90s hard, sinking fastball, Zambrano had a fairly average 168:94 K:BB ratio. The reason he was able to post a low ERA -- along with a 1.318 WHIP -- even with all the free passes is his low hit rate and his alarmingly low home run rate. Zambrano gave up just 188 hits and only nine home runs last year despite a full season of innings. (Only Pedro Martinez allowed fewer home runs in a full-season of starts). While low hit rates can often be the result of good defense, park effects or just plain luck, the Cubs' average defense, Wrigley Field's nearly average park index for batting average, Zambrano's nearly identical home/road splits, and his history of being stingy with hits at various minor-league stops, lead us to believe that Zambrano is good at getting hitters to make outs when they put the ball in play. That he allowed just nine home runs and has a lot of movement on both his fastball and slider only reinforces that conclusion. That said, Zambrano is a bit of an injury risk heading into 2004 as manager Dusty Baker showed little restraint in pushing the 21-year old righty deep into games -- he finished seventh in the National League in pitches per start with 106.4 per game (stat courtesy of the Bill James 2004 Handbook) and pitched deep into October. Many young arms can't take that kind of abuse, but for what it's worth, Zambrano, who at 6-5, 245 pounds has a big frame to help generate his velocity, actually pitched better down the stretch, going 7-3 with a 2.51 ERA and a 74:37 K:BB ratio in 93 IP after the All-Star break.
Zambrano, who will turn 23 in June, throws in the high-90s, but lacks a reliable second pitch and needs to work on his control. In 101 big league innings, Zambrano struck out 93 hitters last season, but gave up 94 hits and walked 63, meaning that he was a little bit lucky to have an ERA of 3.66. Zambrano, who finished 2002 as part of the Cubs' rotation, will again compete for a spot in the Cubs rotation this spring.
More Fantasy News
PFree Agent  
September 6, 2014
Zambrano has retired from baseball, reports.
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PFree Agent  
September 11, 2013
Zambrano's agent said his client's shoulder is healthy and that he intends to play in the Venezuelan Winter League, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports.
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PFree Agent  
July 25, 2013
Zambrano (shoulder) was released by the Phillies on Thursday, reports.
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PPhiladelphia Phillies  
July 2, 2013
Zambrano was diagnosed with a Grade 1 lat strain and will be shut down for four weeks, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.
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PPhiladelphia Phillies  
June 29, 2013
Zambrano (shoulder) was placed on Triple-A Lehigh Valley's 7-day DL on Saturday, Todd Zolecki of reports.
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