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Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, and Matt Garza will start the first three games of the Chicago Cubs’ season, but, so far, the Cubs have not announced which two pitchers would follow them in the rotation. Randy Wells has been in the Cubs’ rotation the last two seasons and has done nothing – seriously, nothing – to lose his job. Indeed, it’s looking increasingly likely that Wells will take the ball fourth, with a question mark remaining at number five.

Randy Wells still needs to take care of business in his next couple of starts, but he has shown team officials what they wanted to see out of the 2009 rookie surprise, who got a little full of himself during a disappointing 2010. He leads the Cactus League with a 1.29 ERA.

Assuming that means there’s one opening left in the rotation, Silva might be third in line for it, behind second-year top gun Andrew Cashner and veteran plugger Braden Looper. No guarantees on how that will play out, but Cashner’s the guy the Cubs wanted to see win one of those jobs before camp ever opened, and you can count him in if he gets even slightly more efficient as he finishes up this spring.

That could make Looper a long man and emergency starter in the bullpen. Chicago Sun-Times.

I think you’d have to say that Cashner is the leader at this point for the 5th starter spot, if not entirely based on his performance, but based on (1) the team’s desire to transition him into the rotation, and (2) the generally sucky performance of his primary competitors.

Looper was adequate in his last start, so we’ll see where that goes. But even if he dominates over the next couple of weeks, it’s hard to rely on a guy who didn’t throw a pitch last year, and who was merely passable as a starter in the preceding three seasons. He seems reluctant to take a bullpen job, but if he’s willing, I strongly suspect he’ll make the club. Ideally, the Cubs would probably like to trade Silva, but if not possible, he might also end up in the bullpen. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Silva and Looper would be “battling” for one bullpen spot (the long man) if Cashner locks down the fifth starter spot.

In other words, there’s still a lot than can change over these next two weeks.

 

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