The young Andrew Cashner is scheduled to start for the Cubs this afternoon, a day after the team's rotation officially went from 60% set to 80% following Randy Wells' dominant performance yesterday. That's right, dominant: after giving up two singles to start the game, 18 batters faced, 18 batters sent back to the dugout, with seven strikeouts. Nasty.
Randy Wells' Journey from AAA Castoff to Potential Ace
And this wasn't just a control guy nibbling on the corners and getting lucky with weak contact; Wells' changeup was totally sick-looking, and his fastball was staying down. When Wells first broke into the rotation, we thought of him as a pitcher with OK stuff and good control. I think that impression might change this year.
It's admittedly foolish to think Wells is due for 200 super duper innings based on a good March. Plenty of guys look great in spring, and then end up being terrible over the course of a season (like, for example, Tyler Colv... wait, hold on a second...). But combined with his 360 innings of great pitching over 2009 and 2010, plus what at least appears to be a concerted effort to improve his focus and mental game for the 2011 season, I think Wells has a high ceiling.
In fact, I think he might end up being the Cubs' best pitcher this year. The way I see it, there's only one other legit candidate, that being Ryan Dempster. Z could win 15 games, but I'm almost certain he'll hit the 15-day DL at least once this year with some sort of cramps; and Garza should be solid, but his flyball tendencies scare me a bit.
So as of today, I'd rank them this way: Wells, Demp, Z, Garz, Cash. How about you? Who's your pick to lead the team as the staff ace this season?