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04/25/10 7:45 PM ET

Silva, Lannan off to disparate starts

When the Cubs sent Milton Bradley to the Mariners in exchange for Carlos Silva during the offseason, the move was essentially deemed as one bad contract for another.

So far, though, Chicago has gotten a nice return investment on Carlos Silva, even though they're on the hook for $14 million of the $23 million owed to him over the next two seasons.

Silva has given up just two earned runs (four total) in his 19 innings this season. He has walked only two batters in that span while striking out 12. And his 0.632 WHIP led the National League going into Sunday.

The sample size is still small. But for a guy who went a combined 5-18 with a 6.81 ERA in the two years after signing a four-year, $48 million contract with the Mariners, it's a very welcomed start.

"Thank God for the three good starts," Silva said after his previous start. "I still have a little problem with my shoulder and everything. [God] knows what I went through the last few years. I'm a guy who never gives up. Everything happens for a reason, and thank God everything has gone well, but it's a long, long season."

Silva's Monday opponent, however, has struggled.

Nationals left-hander John Lannan -- the club's Opening Day starter -- comes in with a 5.82 ERA in his first four starts, and it can all be traced to his inability to shut down opposing left-handed batters, as they are hitting a staggering .542 against him this season (compared to .265 for righties).

During his start on Wednesday, when he gave up four runs in six innings and took a no-decision, Rockies lefties went 7-for-9 against Lannan, with four of those hits coming from Carlos Gonzalez.

"I felt great in the 'pen," Lannan said after that outing. "Everything went away after I got in the game. If my offspeed stuff is not working, I don't have that much to battle with them."

Nationals: Capps looks worth the investment
Right-hander Matt Capps, signed to a $3.5 million deal in January, has shined so far in his role as closer, with a Major League-leading seven saves to go along with a 0.79 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings. It's still early in the season, but so far, it's a vast improvement over last year, when Capps finished with a 5.80 ERA with the Pirates and was eventually non-tendered in the offseason.

Cubs: Big Z an unusual sight out of 'pen
Cubs fans certainly aren't used to seeing Carlos Zambrano come out of the bullpen, but they began the process of getting accustomed on Saturday, when he made his debut as a reliever and gave up a run in 1 1/3 innings. That marked Zambrano's first appearance out of the 'pen since 2002. His last relief outing at Wrigley Field came on June 28, 2002.

Worth noting
Both clubs are coming into this series pretty hot. The Cubs completed a three-game sweep of the Brewers, outscoring Milwaukee, 25-4, and the Nats went 6-4 in their recent homestand. ... The Nats have not won a season series against the Cubs since 2006, when they went 4-2 against Chicago. ... Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has missed four consecutive games after tweaking his right hamstring Wednesday. Zimmerman still hasn't been able to run the bases, but the club is hopeful he'll start the series opener against the Cubs. ... Nats outfielder Willie Harris was scratched from Sunday's game with a sore and swollen right knee, but the club is hopeful he can play on Monday, as well.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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