2011 Cubs Vs. 2012 Cubs: Starting Rotation

The Cubs’ Convention came to a conclusion on Sunday. Now the countdown is on for when catchers and pitchers report to Spring Training in mid-February. While president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer do not appear to be done constructing the 25 man roster, manager Dale Sveum is probably beginning to determine potential lineups and rotations. Sveum is not the only one beginning to focus on the Cubs’ roster for the 2012 season.

Here at Cubbies Crib, Luke, Joe, and myself have begun on season preview discussions. While the three of us are still a couple months away from formulating our season predictions, we are beginning to look over the Cubs’ roster player by player. On tap for the months leading up to the season, Cubbies Crib will provide player profiles for each player on the 40 man roster. With the amount of roster turnover that the Cubs have had this off-season, many fans may not be familiar with the names that they see. That is why, the Cubbies Crib staff will do our best to have you well-informed on every player of importance for the 2012 season.

The player profiles are still being constructed, but today marks the beginning of a three post series. This series will pit the 2011 Cubs against the 2012 Cubs. The teams will be divided into three categories; the starting rotation, the position players, and the bullpen. First up in the series, are the starting rotations.

From day one when Epstein and Hoyer took control of the Cubs’ baseball department, the front office has prioritized the pitching staff. The fact of the matter is the 2011 Chicago Cubs should have had at least 10+ more wins than they had if it were not for the team’s inept pitching staff. While most of pitching woes could be attributed to the early-season struggles of the Cubs’ bullpen, the 2o11 season proved that the Cubs’ rotation had no depth.

The Cubs entered the 2011 season with a starting rotation that consisted of Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza, Randy Wells, and Andrew Cashner. Though, Wells was injured for most of the first two months of the season while Cashner only made one start for the Cubs last season. It was the injuries to Cashner and Wells that shined the light on the dark-hole of the Cubs’ roster. That whole being that team had no insurance in case one or more of their major league starters went down with an injury.

It dd not take Epstein and Hoyer too long to realize that the amount of pitching depth–especially in their starting rotation–was not going to suffice in 2012. While the Cubs did lose two starting pitchers in Zambrano and Cashner, the team added three new starting pitchers in Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, and Paul Maholm.

As the Cubs’ roster is currently constructed, the Cubs’ rotation figures to be Garza, Dempster, Maholm, and take your pick of the final two between Wells, Volstad, and/or Wood.

Matt Garza

  • 2012 Projection: 12-12, 3.70 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 214

Ryan Dempster

  • 2012 Projections: 11-12, 3.95 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 203 IP

Paul Maholm

  • 2012 Projection: 7-9, 4.22 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 147 IP

Randy Wells

  • 2012 Projection: 8-11, 4.24 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 174 IP

Chris Volstad

  • 2012 Projection: 8-10, 4.34 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 164 IP

Travis Wood

  • 2012 Projection: 4-4 in 19 games (12 games started), 3.75 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 72 IP

The key to the Cubs’ 2012 rotation in my estimation is going to be Maholm. If Maholm can stay healthy and pitch on the same level that he did with the Pirates last season before the team’s run for the division title came up short. But the addition of Vosltad and Wood gives the Cubs more insurance and depth than the team had last season.

It will be interesting to see how the Cubs’ 2012 rotation shakes out. Dempster and Maholm may be the only locks to be in the opening day starting rotation. Garza’s name has been mentioned heavily in trade rumors, and the consensus is that the Cubs would love to trade the starting pitcher for a haul of prospects. If Garza were to be traded, that would allow the Cubs to have a three of their pitching acquisitions in Maholm, Wood, Volstad to be in the starting rotation when the season starts. If the Cubs do not trade Garza, than it would seem likely that either Wood or Volstad would start the season in the bullpen.

With Cashner projecting as a reliever for the Padres, and Volstad being a much younger, team-friendly version of Zambrano; the Cubs’ 2012 rotation stands to be much better than the rotation the Cubs had going into the 2011 season.

Topics: Andrew Cashner, Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs, Chris Volstad, Dale Sveum, Jed Hoyer, Matt Garza, Paul Maholm, Randy Wells, Ryan Dempster, Theo Epstein, Travis Wood

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