Where We Stand Now: Starting pitching

I already took a look at the team batting numbers, and now we'll look at the bright spot in the Cubs roster: starting pitching. Here's how the seven pitchers who have started games thus far have performed.

Ryan Dempster 4 28.1 9.21 2.86 0.32 41.2% .191 0.95 2.32 2.94
Matt Garza 5 33.2 9.62 2.67 0.80 44.9% .221 2.67 2.96 3.01
Jeff Samardzija 6 38.2 9.08 2.79 0.47 49.5% .305 3.03 2.62 2.94
Chris Volstad 6 33.0 5.73 2.73 0.55 46.3% .296 6.55 3.38 4.12
Paul Maholm 5 26.1 4.78 2.05 1.71 54.7% .226 5.13 5.61 4.55
Randy Wells 2 8.2 5.19 9.35 0.00 34.6% .310 6.23 5.26 6.68
Travis Wood 1 6.0 6.00 4.50 1.50 58.5% .125 4.50 5.29 4.26
League Average     7.10 2.86 0.89 46.5% .283 3.73 3.70 3.75

The top three of the Cubs rotation has been dominant, the rest, eh. There's not much to say about Dempster and Garza, because we knew they would be pretty good. We've certainly spilled plenty of words on Jeff Samardzija as well, so Iet's take a closer look at the rest of the rotation.

The advanced stats like what Chris Volstad has done but he's had big problems with the Big Inning. He's looked pretty good with some bad luck in several starts but he just straight didn't have it in his last one. Some (can't remember who) have suggested that maybe he's having trouble throwing out of the stretch. He has a 46.3% LOB%, which is insanely low (league avg for starters is 72.7%).

Paul Maholm's had a rough start to the season but has returned to doing Paul Maholm things in his last outing or two. He's had some bad HR luck and some good balls in play luck. But there's not much to say about Maholm, which has pretty much been the story of his career.

It was only two MLB starts for Randy Wells but just as I'm getting used to the idea of Transformed Jeff Samardzija, I'm also finally moving toward the general consensus that think that Wells isn't going to bounce back from that injury last year. He posted back to back 3 WAR seasons his first two years, but he's looked like shit since being rushed back from his shoulder injury. The two major ingredients that made him a quality starting pitcher were his sub-3 walk rate and his ability to get ground balls. Since returning his walk rate has risen (3.13 last year, 3.72 in AAA this year) and his ground ball rate has dropped (don't have the minor league numbers on this one). He's also had much bigger problems with HRs, though some of that could be fluky (IIRC he gave up a lot early last year while he was still bouncing back). Still, the scoutng department looks pretty smart for pushing Samardzija ahead of him however much of a headscratcher it looked at the time. If we're lucky he'll figure it out back in Iowa, so long as he doesn't catch Jay Jackson disease.

Travis Wood seemed to have a decent shot at a rotation spot after the Cubs picked him up for Sean Marshall, but he had an awful spring and Jeff Samardzija grabbed his spot instead. After a great rookie year with the reds he had a merely good one in 2011. For a guy who is such an extreme flyball pitcher, he had surprisingly low HR rates especially considering that he pitched half his games in the Great American Launching Pad. He's had superficially lousy numbers in AAA so far this year (5.08 ERA), but it looks like a big part of that is BABIP-related (.388). His minor league FIP sits at 3.87 and he's striking out more than a batter per inning. He won't be sitting in AAA forever, but he'll have a slot ready for him next year if someone doesn't get traded sooner than that.


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