After rainout, Cubs face questions on pitching staff

456203.jpg

After rainout, Cubs face questions on pitching staff

Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Posted: 3:52 p.m. Updated: 4:12 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Riding in their charter jet toward Phoenix, the Cubs will discuss what to do with their pitching staff.

Their decision-makers bought some more time with Wednesdays rainout. The Colorado Rockies will return to Wrigley Field for a rescheduled game on June 27 at 1:20 p.m.

The rotation lines up like this against the Arizona Diamondbacks: Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza, and thats reassuring for a 10-13 team on three-game losing streak, even if those frontline starters havent met expectations yet.

Casey Coleman who was set to start Wednesday against the Rockies will be pushed back to Sundays series finale in Arizona.

The fifth starter is still an open question. General manager Jim Hendry, manager Mike Quade and pitching coach Mark Riggins will go over the options for Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

The Cubs have been reluctant to move Jeff Samardzija (2-0, 3.14) into the rotation now that hes finally showing progress as a reliever. James Russell has struggled in his three spot starts 0-3 with a 11.17 ERA and the Cubs believe his future is in the bullpen.

Twenty-three year-old Jay Jackson a well-regarded prospect whos made two starts at Triple-A Iowa after dealing with elbow tendinitis could be the best candidate from within the minor-league system.

Weve got a long plane ride to kick some things around, Quade said. Well see where were at.

While up in the air, the staff will also try to figure out how to proceed with Randy Wells (forearm strain) and Andrew Cashner (rotator cuff strain). The Cubs declined to reveal what came out of their scheduled re-evaluations with Dr. Stephen Gryzlo, but seem to be thinking about next steps in their rehabilitations.

Everythings gone according to schedule, Quade said. Ive had some fun with them, getting after them for being payroll bandits and neither ones very happy about their (situation). Theyre champing at the bit, (but) someones got to back them down a little bit or theyll go too far too fast.

Nothing has gone according to plan with a rotation that was supposed to be one of the teams strengths. The Cubs have submitted six quality starts the lowest total in the majors and their staff's overall 4.92 ERA ranks second-to-last in the game.

There hasnt been nearly enough offense to cover up those mistakes. The average game-time temperature at Wrigley Field this season is 47 degrees, and six of the 14 home games have had starting temps of 43 or lower.

People are not comfortable with the weather, Alfonso Soriano said. As soon as we have nice weather and (get) a couple more hits, a couple more homers, I think well be in good shape.

Its not easy to play here, especially with the cold weather and the wind blowing in all the time. But we got to be patient.

Carlos Pena is still waiting for his first home run in a Cubs uniform. Aramis Ramirez has reached base safely in his first 22 games, but has generated only one homer. The team is hitting .229 with runners in scoring position.

The Cubs insist that its too early to panic, that the sample sizes are too small and everything will start to even out. Arizona would be a good place to start. Everything begins with pitching.

Its not me, Ramirez said. Were hitting .280 as a team and thats pretty good. (We) just got to keep doing it. The pitchings going to come around.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Wake-up Call: Cubs targeting Yu?; Yoan produces for Sox; Q plots line combos

yu.jpg
USA TODAY

Wake-up Call: Cubs targeting Yu?; Yoan produces for Sox; Q plots line combos

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from a Friday: 

Will Cubs add another ace? Report says North Siders interested in Yu Darvish

Yoan Moncada 'relieved' to get first White Sox hit out of way

Who goes where? Quenneville is already plotting the options

One year later, White Sox have clear direction, no longer 'mired in mediocrity'

Jose Quintana admits trade rumors have affected him negatively this season

Bears training camp preview: Three burning questions for the offensive line

Fire head to Yankee Stadium for big Eastern Conference clash

White Sox minor league trade could signal more big league moves to come

Joe Maddon has not seen anything like these recent implosions from Cubs pitching staff

With NL Central suddenly bunched up, a reminder it won't all be sunshine, lollipops and rainbows for Cubs in second half

 

Joe Maddon has not seen anything like these recent implosions from Cubs pitching staff

hector_rondon_maddon_cubs_implosions_slide.jpg
AP

Joe Maddon has not seen anything like these recent implosions from Cubs pitching staff

Joe Maddon has not seen anything like these single-inning implosions lately.

At least not at the major-league level.

For the third time in the last five Wrigley Field contest, the Cubs pitching staff has allowed at least seven runs in an inning.

This time, it was nine runs before the first out was recorded in the eighth inning of Friday's 11-4 Cardinals victory.

The Cubs actually entered the inning clinging to a 3-2 lead and had their best setup guy — Carl Edwards Jr. — slated to pitch against the top of the Cardinals order.

But after taking out his teammate with a foul ball, Matt Carpenter began the wacky inning with a double off Edwards and the rout was on.

"We had a bad inning pitching," Maddon said after the game. "That's the third time in a week here at this ballpark, if you go back prior to the break. It's a seven, a nine and a 10 in an inning. 

"I've not seen that since rookie ball. That's crazy stuff. I'm saying it straight up: We played good baseball today. We just pitched badly for one inning. Some really good pitchers had a tough time.

"...That's kind of a strange day. We played well and lost because we gave up nine runs in an inning, which is really awkward to watch from the dugout."

Thirty-eight minutes after Edwards threw the first pitch of the inning, the Cubs finally retired the Cardinals and were looking up at an 11-3 score. 

Neither Edwards nor Hector Rondon recorded an out and they combined with Justin Grimm to allow six hits, six walks and nine runs.

Here's how it all went down:

That's the second straight Wrigley Field game that has featured at least nine runs in an inning but a Cubs opponent. Ace Jon Lester surrendered 10 runs in the first inning to the Pittsburgh Pirates on the day before the All-Star Break began.

And the day before that series began, Mike Montgomery and the Cubs gave up seven runs to the Milwaukee Brewers in a rain make-up game at the "Friendly Confines."

"You see it every now and again. Not often," said Jake Arrieta, Friday's starting pitcher who was in line for a win before that wild eighth inning. "You stick around this game long enough and you see some crazy things happen. And really, that was the turning point in the game. 

"A couple guys had a pretty rare outing in the 8th there. You won't see that rarely ever or ever again from those two guys. Just a tough one."

Rondon, who had entered the game having allowed just two runs in his last 13 innings, could do nothing but shake his head in trying to explain it after the game.

"That was a weird, weird inning," Rondon said. "First time I've seen something like that — nine runs with no outs. But it is what it is. They got us today and we'll see tomorrow."

Maddon has seen control issues with his bullpen all year, but still has confidence in the unit as a whole. He knows not to overreact to one game.

However, Maddon did point to the first game coming out of the All-Star Break where Montgomery and the Cubs bullpen squandered an 8-0 lead before Addison Russell's heroics to break the tie for good late in that contest.

"The bullpen has been fabulous," Maddon said. "Twice since the break, they just had tough games."

Rondon and the Cubs relievers won't overreact, either.

A year ago at this time, Rondon was the Cubs' closer and they hadn't yet traded for Aroldis Chapman. So no, one outing won't get him down. 

"Right now, I'm pissed and whatever," he said, "but tomorrow, I'll come in with a different mentality and try to win the game."