The Cubs dealt away four 25-man roster players in the last two days, and, to date, have filled just three of those spots. We’ve been expecting a pitcher to come up today, and I thought it would probably be a reliever, with Casey Coleman and Justin Germano each getting at least one more shot at starting.
Well, a reliever is coming up – Alberto Cabrera – but a starter is coming up, too.
That starter is Chris Volstad, and he’ll be replacing Casey Coleman on the roster, who heads back to Iowa. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean Volstad will be starting with the Cubs.
Volstad, the pre-season darling who dominated in Spring Training, and then could seem to put together a single, completely solid start, was sent down to AAA Iowa in mid-May. And then he got another shot with the Cubs in July! But he couldn’t quite put it together. Again. So, back he went to Iowa.
Now he’s back, and maybe he’s about to get a third shot at stick in the Cubs’ rotation. He’s coming off his best start of the year at Iowa – 8 shutout innings on July 27 – and it’s possible he’ll step in for Coleman, who turned in a poor outing yesterday against the Pirates. (Dear Cubs: Would you please give Coleman a full and fair chance to see what he could do out of the pen? Like, commit to it. Give him multiple months to become a reliever. There might be something there.) Volstad could also have taken Germano’s rotation spot, though I’d think the Cubs would want to take a longer look at what they have there.
Volstad, still just 25, has a 5.17 ERA and 1.472 WHIP at Iowa over 71.1 innings (12 starts). He’s in his first year of arbitration-eligibility, and, if he wants to be tendered a contract this Winter by the Cubs, he’ll need to show some signs of life over these last two months of the season.
It’s possible that, for this stretch, he’ll pitch out of the pen, and the Cubs will see how he looks in that role. Given the corresponding Coleman move, starting Volstad seems more likely, but it’s not like he’s had overwhelming success while starting this year. We’ll have to see what happens.
Cabrera, 23, is making his first trip to the bigs after six-plus years in the Cubs’ minor league system. A hard-throwing righty whom scouts have always liked, but whose numbers have always trailed the scouting reports (which kind of sounds like Rafael Dolis, though they are different pitchers – then again, Cabrera throws a hard, sinking fastball, like Dolis), Cabrera’s strikeout numbers absolutely exploded this year. Always hovering around 7 K/9, Cabrera struck out 11.4 per 9 at AA Tennesse over 35.2 innings to start the year. Then he was called up to Iowa, where’s he struck out 13.5(!) per 9. Overall, his numbers are decent this year – 3.11 ERA over his two stops, with a 1.327 WHIP and 2.3 BB/9 – and he could be a future part of the Cubs’ bullpen, if not maybe even a late-inning reliever.