Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spellcheck is starting to scare me

Spellcheck....AKA Jeff Samardzija...has made two appearances so far this spring in a long shot stab at making the starting rotation...and he's been pretty damn good.

He's been so good, in fact, that he's starting to scare me into thinking that he might actually make the rotation now.  

He did give up two runs in the first inning of his appearance yesterday, but he settled down and pitched dominantly in the final two innings.  He has pitched 6 innings giving up only 3 hits and striking out 6 batters.  

But those stats aren't what have impressed me the most.  He has yet to walk a batter.  His control has been pretty darn good, with the exception of one hit batter (which the Cubs are doing with high frequency), and that is the really what Samardzija had been missing in his very good season last year.  

It's no secret that I've been critical of the Samardzija contract for a long time now, but he proved to be a pretty effective reliever last year, and that is a role I'd like to see him continue in.  

The thing is, if he keeps up this sort of performance, the Cubs may have no choice but to put him into the rotation.  He could be successful, but with the large number of other bottom of the rotation starters in camp right now, I think I'd prefer to see Samardzija in a spot that he has shown success.  

Chris Volstad, the player the Cubs got from the Marlins in the Zambrano trade, has had an equally impressive spring and should be a lock in the rotation with another 2 good appearances.  

With Garza and Dempster locks, and Paul Maholm and Travis Wood as probables, that leaves the last spot in the rotation open to Randy Wells, Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman, Spellcheck, and Volstad.  

Volstad probably has the highest ceiling of any of those remaining players....and a strong spring will probably guarantee a spot in the rotation regardless of how anyone else does.  

That doesn't mean Samardzija won't get a chance to start.  Maholm is coming off a shoulder injury and you never know what else might happen...the Cubs were down two starters before the season was two weeks old last year.  


Another possibility for Samardzija comes from the opposite end of the spectrum....could he become the closer?  

Carlos Marmol has had a lot of problems so far this spring.  With his velocity drop last year and his struggles so far this year, some people are starting to wonder if that wicked slider is starting to take a toll on his arm.  

The Cubs do have Kerry Wood to step in, but I'm not sure the new Cubs management team is all too excited at giving Wood the workload that is required of a closer, especially with his history of arm problems.

So if Samardzija has his location issues under control, he might be the best option to take over for a ailing/flailing Marmol. 

I'm scared and excited at all the possibilities Spellcheck's emergence may provide.