Hoyer: Cubs will need pitching surplus

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Hoyer: Cubs will need pitching surplus

GLENDALE, Ariz. For an organization that has undergone sweeping changes, the Cubs dont really have many jobs open in camp. The hardest and most important decisions will be at the back end of the rotation.

I dont see a six-man rotation, especially early in the year, when you have extra days off, general manager Jed Hoyer said Sunday. I hope we have that problem. I hope the problem is because guys pitch well, not because they struggled down the stretch.

But Id love to have a quandary, so to speak. Were going to use eight, nine, 10 starters this year if were lucky. So the idea that we have, kind of, seven guys competing for five spots, thats an Opening Day issue. Thats not a season-long issue.

Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Paul Maholm are essentially locks. Hoyer declined to say whether the Cubs have made any progress with Garzas camp on a potential long-term extension.

Manager Dale Sveum has been raving about Jeff Samardzija, how hes on a mission and built to throw 200 innings. The Cubs also like the upside of Chris Volstad, whos 25 years old, 6-foot-8 and a former first-round pick.

Randy Wells has a track record in the big leagues (27-30, 4.01 ERA in 500-plus innings). The Cubs thought enough of Travis Wood to make him the centerpiece of the Sean Marshall trade with the Cincinnati Reds last December.

The Cubs could be looking at a surplus of starting pitching, which is exactly what they wanted to create over the winter. Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman and Andy Sonnanstine are insurance against the injuries that devastated the Cubs last season.

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland turned in one of his best starts of the season on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the White Sox had nothing to show for it after a 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.

In six innings, Holland allowed four hits, one earned run, and two walks while recording six strikeouts. He was charged with his only run in the seventh, when he allowed a single to Yonder Alonso, who came around to score after Holland had been pulled from the game.

Despite his confidence in the bullpen, which has been one of the White Sox biggest strengths this season, Holland would like to see himself go deeper into the games.

“I should be getting into the 7th and not having 110 pitches,” Holland said. “The bullpen's done a great job of picking us up in the seventh, eighth and ninth. The starters, and really pointing more to myself, we need to...I need to go out there and go longer."

Entering Sunday, three of Holland’s last four starts had been the worst outings of the season – allowing 22 earned runs over those four games. Despite the team’s 5-3 loss, Holland felt his outing was a step in the right direction.

“I felt good about everything out there,” Holland said. “(Omar Narvaez) and I were right on the same page. There were just a couple of things that got away from us. Just one of those things. Defense made the plays for us when they needed to, unfortunately we just didn't come out on top."

Manager Rick Renteria also had high praise for the 30-year-old southpaw, who bounced back from one of his shortest outings of the season.

“I thought Holland, hopefully what's not lost is Holland's outing today was really, really good,” Renteria said. “He kept us in the ballgame. They've got some kids that can swing the bat. They were putting things together. All we were trying to do at the end was minimize any damage they could produce. We weren't able to.”

Honda Road Ahead: Can Cubs slow down Nationals bats?

Honda Road Ahead: Can Cubs slow down Nationals bats?

CSN's David Kaplan and David DeJesus discuss the upcoming matchups in this edition of the Cubs Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

Maybe a four-game series with the N.L. East-leading Washington Nationals will help the Cubs take off. 

It did last year. 

The Cubs swept the Nats early last season, boosting themselves into first place in the National League - a position they wouldn't relinquish. More than a sweep, though, a positive series is vital for a team that continues to hover around .500. 

To do so, Joe Maddon's pitchers must somehow slow the Nationals offense, which has managed to push across more runs than any team in the majors. 

After D.C., the Cubs are off to Cincy for a three-game set with the Reds. 

Watch David Kaplan and David DeJesus preview the upcoming matchups in the video above.