Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cashner & Wells Go Down: Rotation Options Now

The Cubs surprised everyone today by announcing that they have lost two of their starting pitchers after just one time through the rotation. Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner have both been placed on the 15-day DL.

Cashner has a strained right rotator cuff. He left Tuesday's game with the injury, so that was not as much of a shock as Randy's injury. Wells has a strained right forearm.

Losing two starting pitchers this early in the season is a huge hit to a 3-3
Cubs team that fell to the D'backs today. This is about the time that the Cubs regret letting Carlos Silva and Braden Looper go instead of offering one of them a bullpen spot. In spring training, the Cubs had four solid options for the back end of the rotation. All four are now out of the picture- one retired, one released and two injured.

After tomorrow's off day, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza will work the first two games in Milwaukee. Then Wells' spot will come up in the rotation. Casey Coleman is expected to be called up from Triple-A Iowa to make the start. Coleman did a great job last year in a starting role and had a fairly good spring. While Coleman is a no-brainer at this point, Cashner's rotation replacement remains a question mark.

Todd Wellemyer, who received a few starts in spring training, is still trying to recover from hip injury. He will start the year at Fitch Park until he is ready to pitch in game situations. Of the rest of the Iowa Cubs projected rotation (Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Roberto Coello, Thomas Diamond, J.R. Mathes and Coleman), Thomas Diamond makes the most sense to come up to the big leagues. He didn't fair too well last year, bouncing back and forth between the pen and starting five. However, Diamond still has the most experience among the four.

The best option could be in the Cubs bullpen. Lefty James Russell was a starter in the minor leagues and could easily move back into that role. Jeff Samardzija is expected to remain in relief for now, while Marcos Mateo is also out of the question.

Most likely, Mike Quade will decide to skip the fifth spot for a while. Ryan Dempster can pitch on regular rest on Monday thanks to the off day Thursday. The Cubs have another day off next Thursday. Q could avoid using more than four starters until either Cashner or Wells returns, depending on how long they are out.

Two roster additions will be made before Friday's game, one of which will be Casey Coleman.

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