When the Chicago Cubs acquired starting pitcher Chris Volstad in a trade that sent starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano to the Miami Marlins, Volstad was an after-thought in that trade.
Reason being that was the trade that finally removed Zambrano from the Cubs’ clubhouse. After a hot start with the Marlins, Zambrano has cooled off as of late. Zambrano is 4 and 6 on the season to go along with an ERA of 4.14.
Meanwhile, Volstad was second only to Jeff Samardzija for being the most effective Cubs’ starting pitcher during Spring Training. However, Volstad’s stellar performance in the Spring did not carry over until the regular season. Volstad has struggled considerably this season with the Cubs. With the Cubs this season, Volstad is 0 and 7 to go along with an ERA of 7.94.
After a stint to the Iowa Cubs, a Ryan Dempster injury, and the DFA of Randy Wells; Volstad finally returned to the Cubs starting rotation. Though, the result was the same as his starts for the Cubs earlier this season. Volstad did not make it through the fifth inning on Tuesday as the starting pitcher gave up six runs on seven hits while walking two batters in the Cubs 10 to 3 loss to the Braves on Tuesday.
After the game on Tuesday, Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum had some harsh words for Volstad.
“Not much has changed, obviously,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Another bad inning. There was still some hard contact going on before that with the stuff and the location so it wasn’t all that good anyway. The ball wasn’t down and it didn’t seem like anything was sinking very good.”
“He didn’t really pitch to the gameplan so that was a little bit discouraging,” Sveum said. “[Catcher Steve] Clevenger got shook off a lot for some reason. Another combination of a lot of things he has to learn to work on.” ESPN Chicago
If Volstad was not on thin ice before making the start against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, the starting pitcher sure is now. This may be the first time that the no non-sense side of Sveum is coming out. Sveum’s comments essentially alluded to the idea that Volstad’s progress with the Iowa Cubs wasn’t really progress at all, and that the starting pitcher still has a lot to work on. One would have to wonder how far the Cubs are going to go with Volstad. Granted Volstad is only 25 years old, but the starting pitcher has regressed in each season after his rookie campaign in 2008. Despite the tough criticism of Volstad, Sveum said that Volstad will likely get one more start in place of Dempster before the All-Star break. If Volstad falters once again, I would imagine that a trip back to Iowa for the rest of the season will likely be in store for the former Marlin.
Volstad’s case is a familiar one for those who follow Chicago baseball. Volstad usually pitches successfully through the first four innings, but then struggles in one particular inning(either the fifth of sixth) and that is what does the starting pitcher in. Javier Vazquez experienced the same thign when he was a member of the Chicago White Sox starting rotation. The White Sox could never find an answer for why Vazquez was plagued by one bad inning, and that could be a reason why the White Sox traded him to the Braves after the 2008 season.
If Volstad can’t solve his struggles, his future with the Cubs might not be a bright one.