Has Andrew Cashner done enough this spring to claim the 5th and final spot in the Cubs starting rotation? That is a very good question.
Cashner started Monday’s rain out and made it through 3 rough innings in cold and wet weather conditions. He allowed 4 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks and said that it was tough to control anything out there. He still thinks he has a shot to be a starter in 2011 – “I think I’ve thrown the ball well this whole spring and whatever decision they come up with, that’s what I’m going to do. I thought I’ve given it my best shot. I could’ve pitched better, but I thought I pitched well enough so we’ll see what happens.”
Cashner’s main competition is coming from Carlos Silva. But Silva has had an awful spring with an ERA over 15.00.
The decision might come down to something that has nothing to do with pitching performance. Silva has always been a starter and is likely more effective as a starter (assuming he has the right stuff going). Cashner, on the other hand, pitched the entire 2010 MLB season out of the bullpen and at a young age, the Cubs might opt to take it slow with Cashner. The Cubs might want to limit the number of pitches that Cashner throws this season, and pitching out of the bullpen would be the perfect way to do that. Cashner could work on his pitches in relief and he is a dependable arm in the bullpen as well.
We’ll have to see what Manager Mike Quade and the Cubs decide to do. I have a feeling they are going to play it safe and go with Silva as the #5 starter and Cashner as a reliever. If Silva falters after a few starts, then the Cubs could decide to try to move him in a trade and bring in Cashner as the 5th starter. If Silva excels, the Cubs could still try to move Silva when his trade value is high and use Cashner as the 5th starter or bring someone else up from the minor leagues to take that 5th spot. Given the uncertainty of this 2011 MLB club, I have a feeling that the safe option with Silva as #5 will prevail, even though I would prefer that the Cubs allow Cashner to learn on the job during a season where there should be little pressure on the Cubs to do well.