Wanted: Starting Pitchers For 2013

When the Chicago Cubs first promoted Brooks Raley to the Major League, the thought was that Raley would be a temporary fill-in for the starting rotation until pitcher Matt Garza returned from his right elbow injury. As it turns out, Garza was shut down for the season. That figured to open up somewhat of an opportunity for Raley to showcase himself for the 2013 starting rotation.

Aug 7, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Brooks Raley (right) waits to get the ball back from the catcher as San Diego Padres left fielder Carlos Quentin (center background) rounds the bases after hitting a three run home run during the fourth inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Raley’s first start against the San Diego Padres was one to forget. In his first Major League start, which was against the Padres, Raley only lasted 4 innings while allowing 7 runs on 8 hits. After the initial nerves of his first Major League start, Raley appeared to be getting comfortable with his spot in the starting rotation. Following his start against the Padres, Raley recorded his first career quality start against the Reds tossing six innings while allowing 3 runs on 5 hits. Raley then started the second game of the Saturday double-header against the Reds and earned his first Major League win as he allowed 3 runs on 4 hit while pitching 5 1/3 innings. Raley’s next start will come with the Iowa Cubs as the Cubs have promoted Chris Rusin to presumably takes Raley’s spot in the rotation.

At first, the move was puzzling. Chris Volstad has not won a game since July of 2011 and it is in large part related to his struggles as a starting pitcher. Granted, Volstad is only 25 years old, there comes a point in time where the book on a pitcher simply is in it’s final edition. For Volstad, who is 0-9 on the season to go along with an ERA of 6.88, that could very well be the case. Begging the question why didn’t the Cubs designate Volstad for assignment which would have not only opened up a rotation spot for Rusin but also open up a spot on the 40 man roster. Given how inept Volstad has been over the past year, it is very likely that he would have cleared waivers meaning there was little risk of the Cubs losing Volstad if that was there intention.

But then–like a lightbulb turning on over my head–I figured it out. The Chicago Cubs are holding auditions for the 2013 starting rotation. We know that Jeff Samardzija and a healthy Matt Garza should be a part of the rotation, but there is nothing beyond those too. I’d imagine that Travis Wood likely will have a spot in the 2013 rotation as well. That leaves two spots in question. Ironically, the Cubs came into Spring Training this season with two question marks in their starting rotation. It started with Raley and now continued with Rusin, and it likely will continue for the final weeks of the 2012 season. The Cubs are essentially holding tryouts among their own farm talent in the even that one of their top-level pitching prospects can get the advantage on a rotation spot for the 2013 season. All we need now is three judges–my vote is for Greg Maddux, Kerry Wood, and Steve Stone–and the Cubs could begin their own reality television show that features hopeless talent. Nonetheless, as they say, the show must go on.

Topics: Brooks Raley, Chicago Cubs, Chris Rusin, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, Travis Wood

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