It’s no secret that the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen is a disaster right now. It’s full of inexperienced youngsters who don’t appear to have the confidence necessary to hammer down late inning leads.
While everyone bandies about a possible solution – when starter Ted Lilly returns, at least one veteran is going to get bumped from the rotation to the pen – some are suggesting that the solution might be to add yet another inexperienced youngster.
But team insiders say Piniella’s eighth-inning plans from the right side don’t involve Silva.
And there’s no magic arm outside the organization that’s any more available than it was two weeks, two months or four months ago, when the Cubs looked at free agents and trades.
Instead, look at the pitcher who Piniella suggested early in spring training could make the bullpen with a lights-out spring, despite his inexperience.
Cashner was sent to Class AA Tennessee for seasoning, despite a decent showing in camp. Since then, he has gone from eye-opening to eye-popping — as in 20 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings over two starts, with just two walks (both in Tennessee’s season opener). That’s the kind of stuff he has. And despite the fact he’s starting now, he was a closer for TCU when he was drafted.
So if it doesn’t have anything to do with Lilly’s return, what are the Cubs waiting for?
After every pitcher they’ve used in the role this season has struggled in the eighth, why not make a move now?…
Why wait? In part, because the Cubs have the luxury of being at home this week against the Brewers’ mediocre pitching and the Houston Astros’ all-around bad team. And Piniella wants to give the guys he has a chance to succeed before pulling their plugs.
The wait might be in larger part because Cashner pitched six innings Wednesday (10 strikeouts, no walks, two hits) and wouldn’t be available to pitch, even in relief, for at least a few more days. His next scheduled start is Monday, when the Cubs open a road trip in New York.
”Let’s just keep playing, and I’m going to keep using people and seeing exactly how to best use these people,” Piniella said. ”I’m getting some pretty good ideas already.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.
The Cubs have a difficult organizational decision here. If it were an absolute certainty that Cashner would help the big club, then there’s no decision to be made. But since that is far from a certainty, here’s the quandary: Cashner is being stretched out to be a future starter. He’s been starting for just over a year, after being a reliever in college – thus, the process is a long, slow one. If the Cubs are merely hoping that Cashner can be a successful reliever for the big team this year, is it worth hampering his development as a starter?
Again, if it were certain that Cashner would succeed this year, the decision is easy: you do what helps the big club win. You worry about 2011, 2012, etc. later. Assuredly, the Cubs are hoping that some of the other young relievers will step up, so they don’t have to make this tough decision.
And whatever happened to Blake Parker and Jeff Stevens? They didn’t show much in Spring Training, but neither was Cashner lights out then. They are relieving successfully at AAA right now, and might be worth at least a look, no?