Cubs Recap: Volstad victim of big inning once again

Cubs Recap: Volstad victim of big inning once again











It seems that Chris Volstad can throw 4-5 very good innings and somewhere in there is one bad inning.  It' s that one bad inning that has cost him this season.

In fact, in his last 3 starts he's had one inning where he's given up 3 runs or more.  Take away those three innings and Volstad has a 1.80 ERA in the other 15.  That's 18 innings and 3 bad ones, and that has made the difference between a guy who could be establishing himself as a future rotation piece to a guy with a question mark after his name.

It looked like the Cubs were battling and setting themselves up for some more late inning drama.  The game was tied 1-1 in the 5th, courtesy of Bryan LaHair's 4th HR of the year.  Volstad had pitched 5 innings of 3 hit baseball with no walks.  Then the wheels came off again.  After a leadoff single, Volstad came within one out of escaping.  But Carlos Beltran foiled those plans with a double and then David Freese hit a two run HR to seal the Cubs fate.

The bullpen was solid with Scott Maine pitching another scoreless inning, though he did fall behind 3-0 on two different hitters.  It's that kind of spotty control that will keep Maine from getting more significant innings in the short term.

Carlos Marmol also pitched a scoreless inning and continues to excel when the game isn't on the line.  Marmol's velocity is back so far this year and his command has been better, so you have to wonder if his confidence in high leverage situations has been shaken a bit.  It's something I'm sure he would deny, but there's no denying he's been more effective in non-save situations.

Shawn Camp allowed the only other run in the game.

I guess if you would have told me before the series that the Cubs would take 2 out of 3, I'd have been happy with it, but this one still left a bad taste in my mouth.  Through the 5th inning, it looked like the Cubs were in position to sweep the Cards, but one bad inning by Volstad once again ruined in otherwise well-pitched game.




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    It was a tough loss. Volstad looked great early, but then just struggled. I can't put a lot of blame on just him though. The Cubs struggled to develop anything offensively despite 6 hits and 2 walks. Granted, Volstad gave up 4 runs and Camp gave up another, but even if Volstad only gave up the 1 run and Camp gave up the one, the Cubs were unable to put any runs on the board. It was nice taking 2/3 from the Cards, but they need to figure out a way to get more runs and leave less guys on base. If they can't do that then despite the occasional gems pitched by Garza, Dempster, and Shark (and even Maholm in his last start), the Cubs wont win many games. I know we aren't the only 2 fans frustrated today though. Hopefully they start back on the positive side of the W-L column on Friday.

  • In reply to Bill Newton:

    Real tough loss and good point that ultimately it's the offense that let them down. Volstad wasn't great but they weren't completely out of the game iether.

  • Did anyone else notice how the Yankees responded to the news of Pineda's injury? With class. Their GM said Pineda was healthy when they acquired him. The Red Sox when Carpenter was injured? More whining.

  • Hate to say it, but the Yankees are a class organization. Can't say that about the Red Sox anymore.

  • If Wells can pitch consistently (and good), might Volstad work well in the pen as long relief when Demp comes back? He'd be good for a couple of innings.

  • In reply to JayPea:

    I don't think it's a matter that he can only go 2-3 innings. The bad inning has come at random times this year, including in the first inning against the Reds, then he settled down and shut them down in the next 5 innings. It's just staying out of the bad inning

  • Seems like Volstad's destiny lies in the bullpen. He would make a great long relief pitcher.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    I would agree, but it's not just the 5th or 6th inning where he struggles. It was the 1st in one game, the 4th in another. I don't think it's fatigue or going through the order the second time. It's one of those things, but he's going to have to bear down with men on if he wants to be a long term rotation guy.

  • Just curious - Does Volstad have any options left if Wells pitches better and they want to keep him up after Dempster comes back, but want to keep Volstad working as a starter?

  • In reply to bruno14:

    There are options left for Volstad. But haven't seen any reason to reverse course and go with Randy Wells. Wells hasn't really pitched any better, especially if you count his AAA numbers.

  • Watching the catcher's mitt his last two starts, Volstad seems to miss his spots way too often. It's weird, if he's trying to go outside to a rh hitter, the ball will go too far right, but if he's trying to go inside on the same hitter, it will go too far left. Always over the plate.

    And these conceded bases are really starting to piss me off. There are way too many times when our pitcher doesn't even throw to first in an obvious steal situation, and way too many times a runner will take 2nd or 3rd uncontested. And I'm talking about in tight games, not blowouts. That's bad managing.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    His command hasn't been as fine as it was during the spring. Hopefully he gets that back.

    I blame the players for those conceded base situations. Manager doesn't tell pitchers when to throw to first. That's something they should already know and be doing on their own.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Seems like the Cubs have gotten a few conceded bases themselves this year too. Seems weird but I've seen that more than usual this year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Really? I saw Clevenger look over in the dugout so much today for signs I'm sure he could have got one to throw over. Or he could be talked to between innings. You see that one today where Ian Stewart didn't even move? That makes me worry that Sveum's so keen on having the players in position (like the no double play depth thing) that it's a strategy. I hope not.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I'll try and keep an eye on it next game.

  • I went to the game today. Volstad pitched alright except he couldn't make 1 pitch to get out of the 6th inning. If the Cubs could score runs, holding opponents wouldn't seem so paramount. I'm not sold on Volstad, but he pitched okay.

    Realizing it's a 162 game schedule, the Cardinals looked beatable today. The Cubs failed to get the big hit today which seems like this will be the way this team operates. They had opportunities, but didn't get it done.

    I like Stewart defensively a lot. His hitting is perplexing to me. He's got a nice swing but misses a lot of pitches. I would love for him to be a reliable fixture in the lineup for the next few years being left handed and has power.

    I was surprised LaHair's ball left the yard. However, I thought for sure Barney's was going out. For them to not score after the leadoff double makes me wonder if it's the opponent's pitching, Jaramillo got too much credit when he was in Texas, the talent he's working with is inept at the plate or they just are rotten at situational hitting.

    Any thoughts on their situational hitting? Hope springs eternal but when they lose it's just so deflating.

  • In reply to Greg Shuey:

    Thanks for the game report, Greg!

    I do think the Cubs will be a team that is going to have to try and keep it close and then hopefully get some big hits. When they don't come, like today, it's going to look ugly. Even when they do come, it's not going to be all that pretty on offense most of the time.

    I've always had concerns about Jaramillo and how much was due to playing in that park and having great players.

    As for situational hitting, it seems like it's always been a problem. This year it's even more important to move runners over and drive in runners when they have a chance.

  • In reply to Greg Shuey:

    Yeah Rudy was the quick fix of the month for Hendry. He was always trying something new each offseason. I've stopped believing in magic coaches all together. I heard Levine say Rudy just needs better hitters, that may be true but he isn't helping the ones he has either.

  • Silver lining time. A few bright spots out of the blue for the Cubs: Clevenger leads the Cubs in OPS and has a .522 on-base percentage. Although doubtful, it's possible that the Cubs have discovered their starting catcher of the future. Tony Campana is third in team OPS and has four steals in only five games. He burns calories like a humming bird; they should keep a feeder of sugar water hanging from the dugout roof. Barney's OPS last year was an evil .666, but so far this year it's .754; he also looks like he's playing better defense (yes, a Cub who has improved on defense). Barney has also been patient at the plate, with four walks versus 9 strikeouts. LaHair fever is running wild. He leads the team in slugging and home runs, and although he has a lot of strikeouts (18) he also has nine walks. More patience at the plate from yet another Cubs hitter! (Something is happening here and you don't know what it is, do you, Rudy J?) Matt Garza continues to impress with a 1.05 WHIP, raising his middle finger to springtime critics like me who grumped that he was a merely a #3-quality pitcher coming off a lucky year. Dempster has a .93 WHIP (!) after 20 innings and returns to he lineup soon. Shark arrogantly stomped from the bullpen to the rotation and has a 1.05 WHIP, flashing a heavy two seamer. And Russell is the new Marshall! Russell has a 1.14 WHIP and an ERA of zero after 7 innings pitches - two innings to go for a bastard shutout.
    Speed on the bases, more patient at bats, young players burning calories, starting pitchers who compete hard, and a manager who expects and is seeing maximum effort on the field. If a few more players start to come through, the baseball will be fun to watch, even if the team doesn't float above .500 this year.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Great stuff baseballet!

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