Cubs

Wells is locking up his spot in Cubs rotation

Wells is locking up his spot in Cubs rotation

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Posted: 8:23 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. The new Randy Wells did not give an acceptance speech. He was not dressed in a tuxedo, thanking all the people that helped him get here. But at this point you have to declare him a winner in this competition.

Its almost impossible to see Wells not being in the Cubs rotation come April. And that remained true even before he dominated the San Francisco Giants in Sundays 3-2 win.

In front of 13,465 fans a record for HoHoKam Park Wells gave up two hits to start the game and then retired the final 18 batters he faced. He gave up one run across six innings and didnt even reach his pitch limit.

Not bad for someone who recently joked about going to Triple-A Iowa, saying it could be worse, that he was glad to just have a job.

Its not up to me, Wells said. Until the decisions made, I cant really say anything. Ive been goofing around and making stupid comments. (But) its just because I dont know what to say. I think Ive done enough.

Publicly, the Cubs arent going to go so far as to anoint Wells as their fourth starter just yet. The front office and the coaching staff will meet this week, perhaps as soon as Wednesday, to make some decisions.

But the 28-year-old right-hander now has a 1.35 ERA through his first five games, a 20-inning stretch. Manager Mike Quade called it an unbelievable spring, and it comes at a time when the Cubs seem to be looking for an exit strategy with Carlos Silva.

As Quade said, I cant tell you anything other than I have been super-impressed with Mr. Wells.

Wells has rolled his eyes at all the sophomore jinx talk. Hes sick and tired of talking about last year, when he let outside influences affect him, and people unfairly started to question his work habits and how much he enjoys the nightlife.

Unfortunate things were said, and stuff I couldnt control (got) to me, Wells said. Im really working hard on not giving a (expletive) what people think.

That goes for the way Wells has pitched he didnt let Sundays start mushroom into a big first inning and the way he has carried himself, with a quiet confidence.

Hes matured quite a bit, catcher Geovany Soto said. His pitching and his mechanics hes taking this stuff a little bit more seriously and it shows. Whenever he pitches, hes got a quick tempo. You can see in his eyes that he knows what he needs to do.

The Cubs would love to see the Wells from last April (3-0, 3.45), July (2-2, 1.83) and September (2-2, 3.15) who looked like a No. 3 starter.

Wells cant forget what he did last May (0-3, 5.40), June (0-3, 6.14) and August (1-4, 5.91). But he thinks hes better for the experience and takes great pride in being able to make 32 starts and contribute almost 200 innings.

Sometimes you start talking about (Wells) like hes a 10-year guy, Quade said. Not only am I excited to see what hes doing now, but there are still plenty of possibilities for this guy down the road because, to me, hes still very young after converting from catcher.

His ceiling could be a lot higher than any of us might think.

Wells looks at it exactly the same way. For him, this is all a confidence game.

You just got to be confident in your ability, Wells said. As long as you believe what youve done is right and youve done the work and prepared yourself to go out there and pitch, (thats all that matters).

When people get defensive or when people take offense to whats said or worry about whats said, its probably because theyre guilty. For me, I know that I took care of what I (needed to).

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Why Cubs might not lose again and other musings in strange, short season

Why Cubs might not lose again and other musings in strange, short season

As if things weren’t already going well enough for the Cubs during this strange, short season of baseball in a pandemic, now the baseball gods are dropping gifts into their laps.

The Cardinals’ lengthy shutdown because of a coronavirus outbreak has the Cubs’ arch rivals restarting their season Saturday in Chicago with a patched-up roster and eight games over the next five days, including five games against the Cubs.

And although that means the relative hardship of two doubleheaders for the Cubs in three days, all five of those games Monday through Wednesday are against a decimated Cards roster that won’t have the front end of its rotation for any of the games.

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They catch the Cardinals at their weakest point of the early season a week after catching an otherwise formidable Cleveland team at a moment of clubhouse crisis involving protocol perps Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger.

That one resulted in a two-game sweep by a combined score of 14-3.

This one already has resulted in all 10 games against the Cardinals now being scheduled for Wrigley Field.

Combine that with the three road games against the White Sox next month, and it means that the team with baseball’s best record on the field, the perfect record in player COVID-19 testing and no significant injuries to key players so far will play 60 percent of its games within its Chicago bubble if the Cubs and MLB pull off the full 60-game season.

If the Cubs were positioned any better to make the playoffs, they’d already be there.

“You can look at it that way if you want,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “We’re just doing our thing.”

No other way to look at it from here. Have you seen the rest of the schedule?

The Cubs have 43 games left, including 29 within a National League Central Division that doesn’t include another .500 team three weeks into a nine-week season. Nine more games are against the Tigers and White Sox.

The best team on the schedule is the Twins, and all three of those games are at home and not until the second-to-last weekend of the season.

With all due respect to Ross and his fear of “bad juju,” the Cubs can’t lose.

“It’s still early on,” the manager said.

Nothing’s early in a 60-game season. And the Cubs already have matched the hot starts of their 2016 and 1908 World Series champions.

“We’ve still got a long ways to go in the season,” Ross said.

The Cubs did have to scratch Tyler Chatwood from his scheduled start Friday night because of back tightness. And Kris Bryant has missed the last two games because of a sore finger after rolling his wrist trying to make a diving catch in left field in Cleveland Wednesday.

But Alec Mills looked good in short-notice replacement duty Friday until a rough four-pitch (and three-run) sequence in the sixth. And Chatwood might be ready for one of Monday’s games — or possibly one of Wednesday’s.

“Things falling in our favor?” Ross said. “We’re playing good baseball, and that should be the focus for me and not the other stuff.”

Granted, they still have to play the games. Granted, Bryant wasn’t available off the bench with the bases loaded in the eighth Friday, and Josh Phegley struck out instead.

And, yes, they actually lost a game to the Brewers Friday night.

But if you still don’t believe the baseball gods are stirring the Cubs’ pot so far this season, you weren’t paying attention in the ninth inning when Craig Kimbrel struck out Avisail Garcia swinging at a 98-mph fastball to start the scoreless inning and Manny Piña swinging at a 96-mph fastball to end it.

What closer problem? Bring on the Cardinals, right?

These guys might not lose another game.

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Cubs' Colin Rea to start on Saturday, Tyler Chatwood possibly Monday

Cubs' Colin Rea to start on Saturday, Tyler Chatwood possibly Monday

The Cubs plan to start swingman Colin Rea on Saturday against the Brewers, manager David Ross said after Friday's game.

Alec Mills was originally slated to pitch Saturday but was bumped up to Friday because Tyler Chatwood was scratched with mid-back tightness. The Cubs will evaluate Chatwood to see if he's an option to pitch on Monday, when they're scheduled to play a doubleheader against the Cardinals.

Rea, 30, has made two appearances this season, allowing no runs and one hit while striking out three in three innings. He was named the 2019 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year, sporting a 3.95 ERA in 26 starts.

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Rea's last big league start was July 30, 2016 with the Marlins. He allowed one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out four with no walks.

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