The Chicago Cubs are about to have a pitching dilemma. As Matt Garza is very close to returning from the disabled list. The Cubs starting pitching staff has easily been their bright spot to open the 2013 season. For a matter of fact, the Cubs starting pitching staff has been tops in the whole major league.
Going into the season, the Cubs had a delux of starting pitchers and didn’t know what to do with all of them. Travis Wood was a candidate to start the season at Triple-A Iowa and Carlos Villanueva was expected to start the season in the bullpen as the long-relief guy. However, when Garza and Scott Baker were placed on the DL before the season, the Cubs job was made easier. Wood would open the season as the number 3 starter and Villanueva was inserted into the 5th spot.
Four of the Cubs starters, excluding Edwin Jackson have been fantastic to start the season. Jeff Samardzija has a 3.09 era, Travis wood has a 2.33 era, Scott Feldman has posted a 2.70 era, and Carlos Villanueva has a 3.02 era. Like I said, excluding Edwin Jackson as he has a whopping 6.39 era. As you can see, the Cubs starting pitchers have been lights out, but nothing to show for it. That’s why win/losses don’t mean anything and should not be judged upon.
About a couple weeks ago, Dale Sveum said the pitcher who is pitching the worse when Garza returns, will be kicked out of the starting rotation. If that’s the case, Jackson will be the odd man out and placed in the bullpen. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but I have a hard time seeing Jackson being placed in the bullpen. Manly because Jackson signed a 4-year deal worth 52 million in the off-season and will make 13 million anually. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jackson does go to the ‘pen, but I just have a hard time seeing it. The Cubs also wouldn’t want to ruin his arm for the long-run.
Believe it or not, a 6-man rotation does make sense. Samardzija’s work-load would be cut back, Garza could get the extra day off to rest his arm, and Feldman/Villanueva will throw less pitches on the season – making sure they don’t get injured, so they will be able to be traded by the July 31st trade deadline.
With all that said, I would expect a trade of Feldman or Villanueva before the Cubs go to a 6-man rotation. There has been interest in Villanueva already and teams have scouted the Cubs already as well.
But with Garza coming back in a couple weeks. a trade would seem far-fetched. However, you can never doubt Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. They’re very quite about everything, especially trades.
The Cubs will likely go with a normal 5-man rotation and it will be interesting to see what pitcher is the odd man out.
Note: I did not add Baker in the article due to the fact I don’t know when he’ll return and if he will ever return this season. If Baker does return, a starting pitcher or two will be traded by then.
What do you think th Cubs will do when Matt Garza returns from the DL?