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…