Carlos Zambrano (born June 1, 1981 Puerto Cabello, Carabobo State, Venezuela) is a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who has played for the Chicago Cubs since 2001. He is a switch-hitter (which is rare in baseball, especially for a pitcher) and throws right-handed.
Zambrano, an imposing figure at 6'5" and 255 pounds, was signed by the Cubs as an amateur free agent in 1997 and made his debut in 2001. After being used in both starting and relief duties, he enjoyed his first full season as a starter in 2003, finishing with a 13-11 record, 168 strikeouts and a 3.11 ERA. He was also a major contributor in the Cubs' run to the National League playoffs, in which they would come up five outs shy of the World Series, losing to the eventual world champion Florida Marlins.
Zambrano has been noted for his vibrant personality on the mound. He allows his emotions to be readily evident, always indicating whether he is happy with his performance or not. Zambrano's pitches match this eclectic nature, as every pitch in his repertoire has significant movement. His pitches come out of a slinging, three-quarters to low three-quarters delivery. His main pitch is his hard, moving two-seam & four-seam fastball that clocks anywhere from 94-98 mph, but usually settling around 96 or 97 mph. Carlos has a heavy cannonball of a sinker that he likes to throw with a split grip. This pitch usually winds up getting beaten into the ground by the batter which is one reason Zambrano likes pitching at Chicago's Wrigley Field with its tall, thick grass. He always makes sure to mix in plenty of sharp-breaking sliders & splits to keep hitters from sitting on his fastball. His main weakness is a lack of pinpoint control, leading to a tendency to surrender walks. Nevertheless, Zambrano seems to be hurt less by giving up walks than most pitchers, due to the fact that batters hit many more ground balls than flyballs against him. This can be attributed to the sinking movement of his fastball. He rarely surrenders home runs (34 in his career) and often induces double plays.
In 2004, Zambrano led his team in ERA (2.75, fourth in the league), won 16 games (tied with teammate Greg Maddux), collected 188 strikeouts, and led the league in hit batsmen (20). He also got his first All-Star berth.
Through 2004, Zambrano has posted a 34-29 record with 453 strikeouts and a 3.25 ERA in 539.2 innings. A switch-hitter, he won't embarrass himself with the bat, either bunting or swinging away. He is a .198 hitter (35-for-178) with three home runs and 11 RBI.