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Cubs’ Lopez might pitch himself onto next year’s team

Updated: August 27, 2011 1:52AM

MILWAUKEE — Could Rodrigo Lopez be part of the Cubs’ rotation next April?

Considering the Cubs don’t know who their next general manager is going to be — much less what transactions he’ll be willing or able to make — the short answer would seem to be yes.

The more involved answer could have a lot more to do with how the journeyman right-hander pitches down the stretch.

He has pitched reasonably well since getting stretched out into a rotation role, particularly in his last four starts (2-2, 3.29).

Even in a 5-2 loss Friday night to the Milwaukee Brewers, he held one of the hottest hitting teams in the league in check through most of a six-inning start. Lopez was victimized by a two-error fifth inning that cost him two unearned runs after the Cubs took a 2-1 lead into the inning.

“That was a pretty good game plan me and [catcher] Geo [Soto] had,” said Lopez, 36, who has said more than once that he’d like to come back next year.

“Rodrigo threw the ball really well and gave us a good start against a real good offensive club,” manager Mike Quade said.

The Cubs certainly are in need of starting pitching as they look to next year. And while Lopez might not be the answer for the Cubs next year that Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke have been for the Brewers this year, he might provide valuable depth.

While it’s easy to dismiss Lopez as being pulled off the same scrap heap as Doug Davis and Ramon Ortiz were, consider that last season Lopez threw 200 innings in 33 starts for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Of course, he led the league in losses (16), home runs (37) and earned runs (111) last year, too.

For the Cubs, he certainly has been fifth-starter competitive, and who knows how much better the depth will get than that by the time they get to spring training?

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