Taking a closer look at the Cubs supersized rotation

The Cubs currently have 6 starting pitchers on the roster*. Those 6 include Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad and Randy Wells. Jeff Samardzija is also going to be stretched out in spring training, but may return to the bullpen when the season begins. The Cubs also have Andy Sonnanstine and Casey Coleman. If Trey McNutt gets off to a strong start in 2012 he could see some playing time too.

* Maholm is not yet on the roster as the Cubs are required to make a corresponding roster move as they already have 40 guys on their roster. The most likely candidates, in my opinion, is one of the left-handed relievers. Since Jeff Beliveau was added to the roster this offseason he’s not leaving. Neither is James Russell. That leaves John Gaub or Scott Maine. If Sonnanstine ends up relief the Cubs will have no use for either of them and with Beliveau not far away one of them is expendable. Other candidates could be Alberto Cabrera, Marcos Mateo or less likely Tony Campana.

Obviously the Cubs aren’t going to have a 6-man rotation. The 5 best will be in the rotation with the remaining starters available in case of injury or ineffectiveness. Below are 8 Cubs starters and their Oliver projected ERA and FIP.

Oliver ERA FIP
Garza, Matt 3.69 3.70
Wood, Travis 4.12 3.75
Paul Maholm 4.45 4.03
Dempster, Ryan 4.36 4.07
Wells, Randy 4.25 4.36
Volstad, Chris 4.75 4.64
Coleman, Casey 4.70 4.71
Samardzija, Jeff 4.51 4.72

Oliver thinks more highly of Wood than I’m guessing most other projection systems do. Oliver also sees a distinct difference between the top 5 and bottom 3. There is little difference between Volstad, Coleman and Samardzija. This is what the Cubs starters, including some work from Volstad would be worth using WAR:

Pitcher IP FIP WAR
Matt Garza 200 3.70 3.8
Travis Wood 180 3.75 3.3
Paul Maholm 170 4.03 2.5
Ryan Dempster 160 4.07 2.3
Randy Wells 140 4.36 1.5
Chris Volstad 100 4.64 0.8

The IP are my estimates and it’s not based on player projections, but rather starting the number 1 (Garza) at 200 IP and dropping each spot after that. That’s not a bad rotation based on the Oliver projections. CAIRO projects a 4.11 FIP for Wood for what it’s worth.