After rainout, Cubs face questions on pitching staff

After rainout, Cubs face questions on pitching staff
April 27, 2011, 3:54 pm
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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.