Dale Sveum Says Scott Feldman is His Fourth Starter … But Nothing is Guaranteed

scott feldman rangersToday, addressing the media, Dale Sveum spoke on a range of topics, but one of the more interesting bits he hit on was the rotation. We know that, assuming health and no trades, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, and Edwin Jackson will be the front three in the rotation. We also know that Travis Wood, Scott Feldman, Scott Baker, and Carlos Villanueva are in competition for the final two spots in the rotation. The early money had Feldman and Wood claiming the last two spots, with Baker starting the year on the DL and Villanueva starting the year in the bullpen.

After Sveum’s comments today, it sounds like he’s thinking the same thing.

“[Scott] Feldman is going to be one of the starters,” Sveum said, per Paul Sullivan. “There’s an above average chance [Scott] Baker is going to probably start just a little bit late, just because you don’t want to really rush him or anything. There’s no need for anything like that. You have [Matt] Garza, obviously [Jeff] Samardzija, [Edwin] Jackson and Feldman in those other spots.”

So, Feldman’s a lock then, right?

Not quite.

“There’s no guarantee of any spots other than those top three,” Sveum added. “But we’ll just let it all pan out and see what happens.”

All right. So, it’s what we’ve thought: Feldman isn’t guaranteed a spot in the rotation just yet, but he’s a clear favorite going into the Spring.

Sveum has been talking up Travis Wood already, so there’s your other early favorite.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

67 responses to “Dale Sveum Says Scott Feldman is His Fourth Starter … But Nothing is Guaranteed”

  1. wvcubsfan

    Well he’s my guy, unless of course he isn’t

  2. PKJ

    Feldman could very well end up being the steal of the offseason.

    1. Marc N.

      Yeah, I really liked that deal. I could see him throwing some really strong innings for the Cubs this year. He’s got good stuff.

      1. Rcleven

        I’ll take the other side. Feldman was pretty much squeezed out of the Texas rotation and Texas needs starters. .509 ERA in 2012. Hurt in 2011. .548 ERA in 2010. Looks like a Volsted for the 2013 Cubs to me.
        But it is spring and hope is eternal.

        1. BluBlud

          I don’t think he is Volstad, nobody can be that bad, I hope, but he would be the seventh option to me. Shark, Garza, Jackson, Wood, Baker and Villanueva would all be ahead of him for me. He would be the long reliever and spot starter during the rare double header or when needed.

        2. Marc N.

          3.81 FIP and 3.87 xFIP in 2012 along with some very solid periphs (7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.02 HR/9, 92 MPH average) sit right behind that 5 ERA. This in the DH league’s toughest park to pitch in besides maybe Cellular field.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            Yeah, when Feldman is on, then he’s a groundball machine. That makes him reasonably stingy on HR. Feldman also does not walk many guys.

            The ZIPs projections predict that Feldman will have the 4th best FIP of the starting candidates for the Cubs, and an FIP ERA under 4! Obviously, the probability of all 4 of those guys (Samardzija, Garza, Jackson & Feldman) having ERAs under 4 is pretty low, but this rotation could keep the Cubs in a lot of games. Unfortunately, the Cubs NOBP offense will keep the other team in games, too!

  3. dan

    Feldman should end up with 12 to 15 wins national leaque is what he needed dh killed him plus he had no bull pen behind him and I think we are strong in the pen

  4. Miggy80

    Let’s say the rotation looks like Garza, Samardzija, Jackson, Feldman, and Wood. How would the rotation rank, number wise, compared to the rest of the MLB?

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      2nd quartile, I would say: above average, but not stellar.

      1. Miggy80

        And in the National league?

        would you say 3rd behind St. Louis and Cincinnati?

        1. Edwin

          The NL, or NL Central?

          I’d put the Cubs behind Cincinnati but ahead of St. Louis.

          1. Miggy80

            Yup the central. At the end of the season we do have the 2nd best rotation in the NL Central. Are we talking Wild Card?

            1. Edwin

              It’s a long shot, and it’d require a lot of best case scenerios playing out. The Cubs probably don’t have the bats to seriously challenge for a wild card. It wouldn’t be unheard of, but if the players are playing well enough for the Cubs to be in that position, it’s more likely that the Cubs trade those players for prospects.

            2. DocPeterWimsey

              Not without some miracles. Run differential is half run prevention, and that’s mostly starting pitching. However, it is half offense: and this teams OBP is going to be dreadful and the slugging will (at best) be average. The offense score fewer runs than the pitchers allow more often than not even if the starters are above average.

              And I’d go with 2nd quartile for the NL. Off-hand, I expect the Nats, SF, LAD, Cinci, Atl and Philly to be better: and that’s your first quartile plus two. I could see a similar performance as StL, and that gives us 8 teams.

              1. Tommy

                Nobody thought the White Sox would lead their division for most of the year last year, either. Anything can happen, especially when you have a young ball club with a handful of newly signed free agents. I’m not saying it’s likely, but if now isn’t the time to be cautiously optimistic, when is?

                1. DocPeterWimsey

                  Can anything happen? Sure, at least in this context. Is it probable that the Cubs will start magically getting on base enough or start slugging enough to make up for lowBP? Not remotely. I scale my optimism to probabilities (it’s in my software), so that’s a bit of a clincher for me!

                  1. Caleb

                    Account for more variables and you’ll find the optimism you seek!

                2. EQ76

                  we need hitting to have any chance of competing.. our offense was terrible last year and we’re still trying to trade our top power hitter…

                  It starts with pitching, but it would suck to see us lose a bunch of games 3-2 and 2-0.

              2. Edwin

                PECOTA has the Cubs winning 77 games, I believe. If things go the Cubs way, they could 87 games, which would be close to wildcard spot. They could also win only 67.

                Again, it’s very unlikely that the Cubs compete for a wildcard spot, but “Miracle” seems a bit strong.

              3. DB Kyle

                Miracle is overstating it. There’s a metric quarter ton of variance in between true ability and MLB wins and losses.

                1. DocPeterWimsey

                  The primary source of that variation is injuries: when good teams perform below expectations (e.g., last year’s Phils or Sox), then it is almost always because injuries prevented players (and particularly starting pitchers) from putting up expected numbers.

                  However, what might be more remarkable is how unsurprising the final standings are most years.

            3. Noah

              On top of that, the Cardinals very clearly COULD have the best rotation in the NL Central if things work out for them. Shelby Miller could be fantastic. Adam Wainwright will be a year further past TJS. You never know about Garcia’s health, but if he stays healthy he’s very good.

              The difference between the Cubs’ and Cardinals’ rotations, to the extent it would even favor the Cubs, is MUCH smaller than the difference between their offenses.

              1. cubfanincardinalland

                Cardinals rotation is a disaster waiting to happen. Garcia with a torn labrum, just magically healed. Jake Westbrook? Lance Lynn who was removed from the rotation he was so bad last August. Joe Kelly with his 1.4 WHIP. And a couple of can’t miss rookies. Wainwright will pitch well, because he is long gone after this season, he wants the big bucks.
                When was the last time the Cardinals developed a quality starting pitcher? Matt Morris or Danny Cox. That is pretty much the list the last 30 years.

        2. Timothy Scarbrough

          Definitely behind Washington as well.

          1. Edwin

            Behind LA.

  5. NLIADad

    Isn’t it great to have good options to choose from? Usually it’s I hope someone steps up to be the 4-5th starters.

  6. cubzfan23

    Is anyone willing to say each of those 5 could win 12-15 games each.

    1. Chaz

      Wins have very little to do with a pitchers ability. Because of our offense we’d be lucky to see 2 hit that

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        +5 for Ravenclaw!

  7. Tommy

    I bet they cave and give the 5th spot to Villanueva to keep him happy. Wood already had his shot and didn’t perform terrible, but he did have his struggles. I think at the very least they give Villanueva the nod early and if he stumbles, they swap him out with Wood later on.

    And that is MY expert prognostication folks! You can bank on it! (as a possibility)

    1. Marc N.

      I could see this with the bullpen lacking a LH after Russell. It’s never really a bad idea to give a young SP some bullpen time anyway, and Wood could be a really good pitcher in the pen.

  8. DarthHater

    Okay, so Campana is not good enough to make the roster, but Feldman is? Yeah, right. ;-)

  9. MightyBear

    I wouldn’t leave Baker on the DL too long though. I guess they want to see who trips up and slot him in there or they’re going to trade Garza and slot him in Garza’s spot.

  10. Carne Harris

    This makes sense because I think they see Feldman as more of a flippable asset than Baker, who I believe they do have genuine interest in extending. To maximize value there, you gotta let Feldman start first half. Kind of too bad though because I like Wood starting better than Feldman but seems like Wood will be the one getting bumped when Baker comes back. Hints of this with their comments about how having Wood in the bullpen won’t hurt his development at this stage.

    1. CubFan Paul

      Genius.

      1. Carne Harris

        Thanks, I’ll let you out of my trunk now.

        1. CubFan Paul

          I’m keeping the ball gag & leather.

          1. Carne Harris

            I’d shake on it if it weren’t for the furry cuffs.

  11. Marc N.

    The pitching staff is so much deeper than the crap they threw out there in the second half:

    Garza is back and hopefully healthy
    Samardzija
    Jackson
    Feldman
    Villanueva
    Wood
    Marmol
    Russell
    Fujikawa
    Camp
    Wade? Wade is a good candidate to be the next Camp
    Castillo? Someone

    With Vizcaino, Cabrera, and even Raley/Rusin providing better upside than what they threw out there last year. I still don’t hate Raley either and he’s still one of the best athletes in the system, though I think he’s purely a BOR lefty.

    It’s an interesting group with some good ability to surprise and put up some kind of fight.

    1. Marc N.

      Forgot the Baker.

  12. Marc N.

    Btw is anyone else not allowed to scroll down when the page is loading (and even a little after) on the phone? My phone ALWAYS jumps me right back to the top over the past week or so.

  13. Bilbo161

    Of course the very reason the FO brought all the arms in the first place is to give them flexibility. Flexibility to deal with injuries or trades as they happen. Lets just hope the right opportunities present themselves.

  14. Diggs

    Sveum probably doesn’t want to confirm Feldman is a lock for the rotation after what happened with Travis Wood last year. Where he was a clear favorite but performed so poorly in spring training that he was sent to Iowa.

  15. Die hard

    Garza health and Jackson conditioning will be factors- also Sveum will deny saying this when asked again – so all starters up for grabs and room for a surprise by a minor leaguer

  16. Cizzle

    Brett, I don’t know if you changed your host, but all of a sudden I’m getting much more fitting ads directed at me. Just bought 3 CAMP Ball Nuts from an advertiser…can’t wait to take my next whipper!

  17. BluBlud

    So, once again, Feldman is the 4th starter, but Wood has to fight for a spot. Wood was here last year, not to mention, he better then Feldman IMO, shouldn’t he be guaranteed a the fourth spot and Feldman have to earn the fifth. Man, Theo and comp may be smart, but they need to learn how to be loyal to their guys. You be loyal to your guys, they tend to be loyal when contract time comes around.

    1. Timothy Scarbrough

      If you feel like Feldman is a better pitcher, it would be better to be loyal to him from the start…

      1. Tommy

        Tim, are you from Streator, IL?

        1. Timothy Scarbrough

          I’m from Arkansas. It is a fairly common last name and first name, however.

      2. BluBlud

        If you have Jay Cutler as your QB and you sign Tom Brady, then yeah maybe, but if you already have Cutler and then you sign Phillip Rivers, you might as well stay loyal to Cutler and tell Phillip if he wants it, he has to take it from Cutler. It goes a long way not only towards that player but also towards his other teammates.

        1. Kygavin

          Feldman most likely wont be around after the deadline so putting him in the rotation now gives him more value than if he was in then bullpen. Also the Cubs lack lefty pen options which hurts Wood’s chances of cracking the rotation as well

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            When Feldman is healthy, then he’s a groundball machine: he’s had a few years where he’s been close to 60%. That’s why Feldman’s projected FIP ERA for 2013 is so much better than Wood’s (3.80 vs. 4.30): we can expect Feldman to give up about 75% of the HR and only about 90% of the walks that Wood will give up. (Wood should K more, but not enough to make up the difference in HR & walks!)

            If Feldman has one of his GB years, then he could be a real commodity come the trade deadline.

    2. Drew7

      Here we go again…

      What’s the formula used to calculate a player’s True-Cub level again?

      1. MichiganGoat

        I forget but sCRAP+ factor is involved.

  18. Roger Roper

    For those that care… MLB network will be doing the Cubs 30 clubs in 30 days. Friday at 5PM central.

  19. macpete22

    Saw Feldman pitch last yr in KC. (Dad and I are trying to hit all the parks) he pitched real well that game. Liked what I saw

  20. BWA

    Could we maybe see a 6 man rotation for a month or two after Baker comes back if Feldman and Wood are pitching well?

  21. MichiganGoat

    I so hope that the day is coming when we’re not on hearing arguing about a 6th OF or 5/6th starter. We are wasting ridiculous hours discussing Campana’s sCRAP and Feldman/Wood. We do have actual budding stars on this team yet they are rarely talked in the comments.

    1. Spencer

      Then stop responding to people talking about Campana lol.

      How about that Javier Baez?

      1. MichiganGoat

        You got it Cpt Morality

  22. Marc N.

    Anyone get their hands on the BP piece about traded top prospects tending to be less successful? I should get my hands on the whole thing.

  23. Njriv

    So I’m guessing the Baker will be placed on the 15-day DL and not the 60-day. So my question is, since putting Baker clears up the rotation questions for about two weeks, what happens when he comes back?

  24. dan

    Guys Felman is better than Baler and Garza

    1. ETS

      Guys Felman must be pretty good then. I think Scott Feldman is a decent 4ish type with potential for more but his #’s don’t suggest much more. Baler I am unfamiliar with but Scott Baker looked great preinjury. TJS is always a bit of a gamble but more recently pitchers show alot of success (usually there second year after surgery, however). Garza, on the other hand, is THE cat’s pajamas.

  25. Stevie B

    What he said ^ ….?