Tsuyoshi Wada knows he’s put himself in a tough position in the Cubs starting rotation after another rough, short outing.
The left-hander was yanked from the Cubs’ 6-3 win over Cincinnati Thursday after allowing a leadoff home run in the fourth inning, giving him back-to-back abbreviated starts with little success in them. Manager Joe Maddon said after Thursday’s game he hasn’t yet thought about dropping Wada from the rotation, but if 34-year-old doesn’t get the message, he very well could lose his spot.
The message Maddon will deliver to Wada on Friday: Be more assertive and trust your stuff.
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“That’s why he’s here in the first place,” Maddon said. “A guy like that that doesn’t throw exceptionally hard, you need to trust what you’re doing out there."
Wada’s fastball velocity has dropped about one mile per hour since he made his season debut May 20 in San Diego, though he said there’s nothing wrong with his arm. The feeling Maddon and catcher Miguel Montero have is it’s all mental at this point.
“He needs to not give that much credit to the hitters,” Montero said. “It feels like he’s giving them too much credit and he falls behind … He needs to pitch to more contract.”
Montero said he saw Wada trying to make perfect pitches in 0-0 counts over his three innings Thursday, in which he allowed three runs on four hits with two walks. He gave up a two-run triple to Reds starter Michael Lorenzen and a solo home run to light-hitting outfielder Chris Dominguez, the later of which knocked him out of the game in favor of Travis Wood, who threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
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The early results for Wada were solid for a No. 5 starter: A 2.30 ERA on 10 hits, five walks and 19 strikeouts over his first three starts covering 15 2/3 innings. He posted a 3.25 ERA in 13 starts for the Cubs last year, so the club has seen him succeed before.
Maddon feels like if Wada can get back to being more “primal” in term of his aggression, and re-gain the confidence that he can pitch well in the majors, he’ll be fine. But with two former starters in the bullpen in Wood and Edwin Jackson, there’s no shortage of options with the Cubs right now to replace him if he can’t turn things around.
“I don’t make those kind of decisions,” Wada said through a translator. “But if you look at the results it could be happening.”