I'm not going to write a typical recap on this one, the 8-2 loss speaks for itself. There's only one thing on Cubs fans' mind right now...
What to do with Chris Volstad?
I can feel the frustration mounting with Cubs fans...
- Send Volstad to the bullpen!
- Does Volstad have options?
- Call up Travis Wood!
Maybe some even want Carlos Zambrano back after they couldn't wait to get rid of him last year.
I don't know what the answer is here and I'm not sure Volstad or the Cubs do either. He looks like a quality MLB starting pitcher throughout most of every start, and then suddenly, at any given time, he loses it.
There's nowhere to send Volstad except the bullpen, but given that most of his problems have come with men on base and pitching out of the stretch, it doesn't seem like a great solution either.
Everything about Volstad's results (0-5, 6.92 ERA) scream that he shouldn't be in the rotation. Yet, his secondary numbers (before today's start) contradict it:
- 2.73 BB/9 IP
- 0.55 HR/9 IP
- 3.38 FIP
- 4.13 xFIP
Those numbers speak of a competent starter who should be getting better results than he is. The stuff is there too. He's throwing a good hard sinker, a slider, and a change-up -- and for most of the game, they are working well.
For most of the game.
I'm not going to re-hash the "one bad inning" thing. Everyone knows that by now. There's also the curiously low strand rate of 46.3% when he's been at over 70% previously for his career. I've mentioned that before as well.
The only thing that matters is why it's happening. Is it pitching from the stretch? Does he change his approach when he gets into trouble? Are there questions about his mental makeup?
Whatever it is, the Cubs need to find out what it is and help him get on track. Volstad is a 25 year old pitcher with above average stuff and good command -- he should be part of the Cubs future.
That's all well and good, but this is a results-oriented society and people expect results. There comes a time when promise and potential need to translate to performance. With Volstad, we see long glimpses of a very good pitcher and then one short, but painful glimpse of a pitcher who is....well, terrible. And the one inning where Volstad is terrible has been enough to cost him the results that fans are demanding to see.
This Cubs brass, however, has been more about process and big picture thinking. The enigmatic Volstad figures to be one of their toughest tests when it comes to their overall vision. Will they be patient and see the process through or will they succumb to the pressures of a fan base demanding short-term results?