We knew heading into the season that the Cubs didn't have enough depth. What if Soto gets hurt? Or Byrd misses significant time? Or a starting pitcher goes down?
Cubs' lack of depth becoming painfully clear
Unfortunately, two starters found the DL just a week into the season. With both Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner missing time, the Cubs have now used "fill-in" starters five times: Casey Coleman has made three starts, James Russell two. And it hasn't been pretty.
Coleman's been the better of the two: 5 IP, 4 ER in Milwaukee, followed by a win in Colorado. But he couldn't make it out of the third inning on Friday, forcing Quade to empty his bullpen just two days after a doubleheader.
Speaking of not making it out of the early innings, Russell had that same problem in his first start of the season. He went just four in his second start as well, meaning that Coleman and Russell have combined to last just 19 innings in five starts, and the Cubs are 1-4 in those games. Ouch.
You're almost always going to see a drop off in production when a starter hits the DL, but other teams have proven to have much more depth than the Cubs. The Reds haven't seen Jared Burton, Homer Bailey or Johnny Cueto take the mound this year; newly acquired Zack Greinke is still rehabbing for the Brewers; Ubaldo Jimenez missed time for the Rockies ... the list goes on. Yet those teams haven't been forced into waving the "L" flag before the first pitch as the Cubs have essentially done each time they've sent Russell to the mound.
The Cubs have a few other options they could look into, including Rafael Dolis (1.46 ERA in three starts for Double-A Tennessee), Jeff Samardzija, and possibly even Kerry Wood. I'm guessing none of those names inspire excitement and confidence as you contemplate them making an appearance in the starting rotation, though Samardzija has looked better of late.
No matter what direction Quade goes, it's obvious that the Cubs don't have enough depth to withstand injuries such as those to Wells and Cashner. The good news it that the Cubs continue to at least tread water, and perhaps they can do a better job of swatting the injury bug as the season moves forward. But if not, it may ultimately be the Cubs' lack of depth that leads to this year's slow death.
Fun stat that will make you want to gouge your eyes out: The Angels' Jered Weaver has more wins (6) than all Cubs' starters combined (5).