One of the reasons I would have been all right with someone other than Andrew Cashner winning the fifth starter’s job out of Spring Training is his yet underdeveloped season-long inning totals. Don’t get me wrong, I would have ultimately chosen Cashner for the job, too. But if someone else had taken a few of his starts early in the year, I wouldn’t have complained.
As it is, the job is Cashner’s, and the Cubs will have to get creative about making sure he doesn’t destroy his young arm this year.
The former college closer spent most of last season in the Cubs’ bullpen. And no matter how well he pitches, his workload will be closely watched after never having pitched more than 1111/3 innings in a season. In fact, his three-year professional total is only 1771/3.
“It’s more so based on the number of pitches and how hard he’s working each game vs. the number of innings,’’ pitching coach Mark Riggins said. “Also, it’s how a guy bounces back. Some guys can handle a heavy workload and recover in four days, and some guys don’t recover, as well. He recovers very well. . . .
“But obviously we get to midseason, and we’ve got to see where his innings are. We’re constantly watching that.’’
As the Cubs’ minor-league pitching coordinator until his promotion this season, Riggins oversaw Cashner’s original transition to starter in the minors in 2009.
Riggins also cites numerous studies about pitchers’ workloads and risks associated with building high innings totals, whether it’s a veteran coming off an injury or a young kid. He said Cashner’s profile bodes well. The Cubs might still look for places to skip him in the rotation as the season goes on. Chicago Sun-Times.
Somewhere Dusty Baker is squirming.
Obviously it’s great news to hear that the Cubs are formally thinking about this issue. Placing Cashner in the rotation right now is as much about developing him for success long term as it is about him being the best option this year. One only wishes that the Cubs were this forward-thinking last year when they placed him in the bullpen to begin with, but I digress.
As the fifth starter, the Cubs will be able to skip Cashner’s turn every now and again, which will help. But in general, you’ll have to understand if Cashner throws just 80 or 90 pitches per start for quite some time.