When Andrew Cashner finally returned from a multi-month stay on the disabled list with a strained rotator cuff, he was placed in the bullpen. It made sense, of course, for the kid who’d started out the year as a starter, given the taxing nature of starting. If the Cubs wanted to get him some innings here at the end of the year, the controlled, abbreviated environment of the bullpen was best. There was no argument here.
Cashner would throw some relief innings at the tail end of the 2011 season before heading to the Arizona Fall League to build back up his stamina for a 2012 return to the rotation. Good plan. I approve.
And then, as probably should have been expected with a talent like Cashner, the kid pitched well out of the pen. Better even than he had in 2010, when he spent most of the season in the bullpen.
That’s when folks starting writing about Cashner remaining in the bullpen in 2012. Sigh.
He’s doing so well (in a whopping five ML relief appearances this year), they said, maybe he’s just made for the bullpen. The suggestion, of course, was almost as ridiculous as the basis, but it caught traction. First among casual fans, and now, unfortunately, among decision makers in the Cubs’ organization.
Cashner has been told that he’ll be relieving in in the AFL, not starting. Double sigh.
“I have no idea on my schedule in Arizona,” Cashner said this weekend. “From what I’ve been told now, I’ll go to the Fall League as a reliever and pitch one or two innings every time out. But we’ll see how it goes when I get there.”
You don’t need me to go, once again, into my belief that a good starting pitcher is far more valuable than a good – or even very good – relief pitcher. Andrew Cashner has the potential to be a good starting pitcher, and why the Cubs would not want to give him a chance to reach that plateau because of one injury is beyond my comprehension. There may be good reasons, but, for now, it looks like it’s a matter of organizational overreaction – something that has plagued the Cubs for years, and something that hopefully the next regime will remedy.
In the interim, Andrew Cashner is left to flap in the wind. For his part, Cashner is exceedingly clear on what he’d like to do.
“They haven’t told me what my future is going to be yet. I’d like to start. I hope to get a chance to start. I feel I can help this team as a starter. But I have to stay healthy first.”