Will Cubs Revamp Its Rotation?

Wishing for a revamping of the Cubs pitching staff is not wrong at all. The troubling part, however, is the organization is void of better options for the time being.

As of this posting the Cubs team ERA of 4.21 ranks 22/30 in the majors. The starting staff’s ERA is 4.20 and ranks 20th in the majors. The Cubs bullpen ERA is a tick higher at 4.23, ranking 22nd in MLB.

Any way you shape it, that’s not very good. But to be fair, the Cubs starting rotation doesn’t deserve much blame for the team’s (8-15) start to the season.

Matt Garza & Ryan Dempster have been simply terrific. Jeff Samardzija is holding his own and Paul Maholm has come on strong winning his last two starts.

But that’s where the good ends and the bad begins.

Chris Volstad is (0-3) with a 6.11 ERA having allowed a whopping 19 earned runs through five starts. His biggest hurdle is avoiding the big-inning, which seems to jump up and bite him each outing.

The hope is Volstad learns to pitch out of trouble, limits the damage and lasts into the seventh inning. Unfortunately, he’s getting plenty of practice, but is doing so at the expense of putting the Cubs in an early hole, which is lethal for a team challenged offensively.

Volstad, it’s worth mentioning, has also failed to earn a win in his last 16 starts dating back to last season. But I suspect the Cubs will give him more leash to get straightened out.

Then there’s the troubling case of Randy Wells. In two starts Wells (0-1) has issued more walks (9) than innings pitched (8.2), and more earned runs (6) than he has strikeouts (5).

Believing Randy will eventually figure things out is becoming a stretch of one’s imagination. He’s unquestionably pitched himself out of the Cubs rotation, and perhaps, off the organization’s depth chart entirely.

Wells’ hasn’t fared any better at Triple-A Iowa this season, either: 15 ER in 14.1 IP, 9.42 ERA. What else needs to be said about Mr. Wells?

If there is any revamping of the rotation I figure two likely candidates to be called upon are Travis Wood, acquired from the Reds as part of the Sean Marshall trade, and southpaw Chris Rusin.

Wood has experienced moderate success in parts of two seasons spent with Cincinnati and Rusin has an overall 3.43 ERA in four seasons spent in the Cubs minor league system. Neither, however, are tearing up Triple-A.

All we can do right now, so it seems, is keep wishing…



Filed under Cubs Blog

4 responses to “Will Cubs Revamp Its Rotation?

  1. Spoda17

    Good points Brian. I think they really don’t have any options at the moment, and I am quite fine with them doing nothing. I want the team to be competitive, but what reall is the difference between 70 wins and 75 wins…

  2. That’s true. And we’ve got to keep reminding ourselves this season is largely based on the Cubs evaluating its entire roster and not on how far they stray from playoff contention.

    Obviously, competitiveness for a rebuilding team isn’t necessarily defined by wins & losses; it’s how the Cubs are playing the games.

    Last year’s bunch was such a sad sack because they too often gave games away in part to mental mistakes, fielding errors, the lack of situational hitting and a general lack of focus overall.

    If there’s ever a time to see if a Chris Volstad should be part of the Cubs future, this is the time and place!

  3. Spoda17

    Yeah, I agree. I think the “future” needs to be part of the daily playing time (which is why I hate to see DeWitt and Baker start), and if they can work them in then great. I was a little upset early April, because it seemed Dale was messing with the lineup way too much, not allowing the guys to at least get some sort of comfort level. I have enjoyed the past two weeks better because I feel they are a lot more stable in their positions and approaches at the plate. I’m glad Sveum has left some things alone for now.

    I am fine with Dolis giving up runs for the sake of learning; same goes for Volstad. I think we will be more competitive in the next few weeks, and I think the offense will get better. I am really happy with the starting pitching, but you have to look past the team ERA; we have pitched ten-times better the past few weeks, but the early bad numbers skew the totals at the moment.

  4. Yep. So far I’m giving Sveum a good grade. He’s sticking with guys like Soto (.127), who needs to hit before he’ll have any trade value, and Stewart (.169), who’s going to be the starting third baseman for the foreseeable future. That’s tough to watch sometimes, but it’s a nod to Sveum for sticking to a longer-term plan for this organization.

    No one wants to see DeWitt or Baker in the lineup. But you’ve got to give these guys some regular at-bats if they’re expected to come off the bench and be effective as pinch-hitters and fill-in type players. I also think Sveum is trying to give Barney more rest in the early going because he tailed off so badly in the 2nd half last season.

    Love what we’re seeing from Dolis. The guy appears to get better and gain more confidence with every outing. I’m keeping my fingers crossed he’ll become closer material and eventually replace Marmol–either be necessity or if Marmol is traded.

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