Remember Larry Rothschild? He hasn't been gone for that long. He's with the Yankees now, but from 2002 to 2010 Larry worked with Cub hurlers as the team's pitching coach. Throughout his career, Rothschild has been considered a successful coach, and during his time with the Cubs pundits often pointed to team strikeout totals to make their case.
Consider the following: between 2001 and 2008, the Cubs led the league in strikeouts. In 2009, they were 2nd, and in 2010 they were 4th.
Interestingly, here we are four games into the 2011 season, and which team do you suppose is already back on top of the strikeout leaderboard?
Indeed, it's the Cubs, with 40 -- and I'll preempt you rate-state nitpickers by also pointing out that the Cubs are the only team with a double-digit K/9 rate so far this season, with 10 K per 9 innings pitched.
The Cubs have six pitchers with at least three innings already this year, and of that group, only Carlos Zambrano failed to get a strikeout per inning -- he only notched four in his six-inning start. The others: Ryan Dempster (7 in 6.2), Randy Wells (6 in 6), Kerry Wood (4 in 3), Carlos Marmol (3 in 3), and Matt "The New Guy" Garza (12 in 7).
So, should you make the call to Vegas and bet on the Cubs leading the league in K's again? Let's think. Demp, Woodie and Marmol have always had great K-rates, so they're fine bets to continue the trend. And I'm not so sure people think of Z as a K-machine, but his career rate is actually 7.71 strikeouts per 9 IP, which is pretty solid. That leaves three other significant names to consider:
- Randy Wells. You shouldn't listen to anything I have to say about him because I am irrationally bullish. He' a career 6 K/9 guy, but I think he's primed to improve this season. (What's that? You think I'm biased by one start against the offense that struck out the most often last season by far? Poppycock!!)
- Matt Garza. In terms of career K-rate, he's closer to Z and Wells than he is Dempster. But he's also a career AL guy. By getting to face the opponent's pitcher 60 or 70 times in a season, plus the fact that Houston and Pittsburgh's offenses suck worse than the Orioles' and Rays', Matt could conceivably end up in Dempster territory (~8 K per 9 IP career).
The last name in the discussion is the Cubs' fifth starter, which as of today refers to Andrew Cashner. And speaking of today, the kid's due to pitch in like an hour. How about that?
Forget Larry; this franchise could yet again be positioned to yet again snag the title for team strikeouts within a season. Hey, at least we might win something!
Andrew Cashner, Carlos Marmol, Carlos Zambrano, Cubs, Kerry Wood, Matt Garza, Randy Wells, ryan dempster
Andrew Cashner, Carlos Marmol, Carlos Zambrano, chicago cubs, Kerry Wood, larry rothschild, Matt Garza, Randy Wells, ryan demptser, strikeouts