Thanks to off days the Cubs have been able to put the James Russell Experience on hold. The next time they need their fifth starter it’ll be salad tossing lefty Doug Davis. Thirty-five year old, cancer survivor Doug Davis. Thirty-five year old, cancer and Tommy John Disease survivor Doug Davis. The Doug Davis who is 9-8 with a 3.55 ERA in 18 career starts against the Cubs.
(Honestly, if I’d told you Doug Davis has 18 career starts against the Cubs wouldn’t you have thought he’s 17-1 with a 0.21 ERA and a top fastball velocity of 74 against them? It just “feels” like that.)
((And I don’t think he actually had Tommy John Disease, but he did have elbow surgery last year after only eight starts and a 7.51 ERA for the Brewers last year. So if it wasn’t Tommy John Disease, it was at least Paul Reuschel Disease, especially when you see what shape Doug is in. He looks like a cross between NASCAR driver Tony Stewart and king asshat Steve Kline.))
Davis might actually be a decent gamble for the Cubs. His last healthy season was just two years ago. He led the National League in starts (34) and posted a bad but not awful 4.31 ERA for the D’backs. Oh, and also lead the league in walks. Oh, never mind. This is going to blow.
Granted, no team is in good shape when two of their five starters go on the disabled list on the same day, especially when that day is in early April. And so I forgive the Cubs for the first of James Russell’s starts, a robust 11-2 shelling on April 12 by the mighty Houston Astros. But the fact that he also got starts on April 20 (loss to the Padres), April 26 (loss to the Rockies) and May 2 (loss to the Dodgers) says some pretty bad things about the Jim Hendry.
What it says is that on four days notice they have to use the closest thing to a stretched out reliever (Russell was being tried as a starter in Spring Training), and then on 24 days notice he’s still their best option, even though he was winless with a 7.71 ERA.
What it says about the Cubs is something very, very bad. Even worse than we expected.
They have nobody in their system who is as good or better than Tom Gorzelanny.
You remember Tom Gorzelanny. Funny looking guy, lefty, average pitcher. Guy the Cubs didn’t need to bring back this year because they were so stacked with starting pitchers.
It’s safe to say that a well run big league team would have started the year with Gorzelanny on their roster. He was competent last year, going 7-9 with a 4.09 ERA overall and posting a 1.42 ERA in relief (albeit only in six appearances). The Cubs will tell you they traded him to the Nationals in the offseason to restock after the Matt Garza trade. Truth is he was arbitration eligible and the Cubs felt they couldn’t to pay him $2.1 million when they only paid him $800,000 last year. That, and they thought they had more starters than they’d need with Ryan Dempster, Garza, Zambrano, Wells, Cashner, Silva, Casey Coleman and Russell competing this spring. And besides, when do TWO starters ever get hurt?
Gorzelanny is 2-2 with a 2.87 ERA in six starts for the Nats and has allowed 21 hits in 37 innings.
The Cubs plugged one hole in their rotation with Casey Coleman. He’s tiny, so he can only plug a little hole, and given the size of his ERA, that hole was way too big for him.
The other? That was Russell, and then Russell again, and again, and again, and you get the idea.
Where was Trey McNutt, or Jay Jackson or Thomas Diamond or Jeff Pico or Alan Proly or Steve Rain? The Cubs just kept running a LOOGY out there and hoped he could get through the third inning.
What it says is that they don’t really know what they’re doing.
Not that it’s a shock to any of us.
What it also says is that things are so bleak, that suddenly Doug Davis seems like a good idea.
And that, is proof that this season was over before it ever started.