Chicago Cubs Focus on Pitching Could Turn Franchise Around

Jeff Samardzija Cubs

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs starting rotation looks like this: Matt Garza and Edwin Jackson will start off solidly with a very impressive Jeff Samardzija next in line. Scott Baker, who they signed to a deal in spite of injury, will be a little while getting back since they want to ensure he is 100 percent healthy. While he is still recuperating, the fourth and fifth spots will be filled by Travis Wood and Scott Feldman, who was with the Texas Rangers last season.

This is not a lights out starting rotation. It would be dishonest to compare them to the Washington Nationals or the Los Angeles Dodgers. The important things to look at here are positive signs for the Cubs. Jackson should give upwards of 200 innings, which the team badly needs. Garza is also a good innings guy and a solid pitcher to anchor this rotation. Perhaps the most promising is the successful transition Samardzija made from the bullpen to the starter’s role. It was much better than some who have made that move in that he didn’t tire towards the end of the season. Look for him to eat more innings and potentially be ready for a breakout year in 2014.

Carlos Marmol will close once again and is ready to go in spite of personal problems that are following him right now. A very promising acquisition is that of Kyuji Fujikawa from Japan. He has plus stuff that makes him closer ready. It will make him a stern set-up guy this year, which could lead to several more wins. Fujikawa has never had an ERA over 2.00 in his career. You might say that is because he wasn’t pitching against major league hitters. This is an ERA never over one-point-something. That’s good if you’re pitching under water.

Overall, the moves of the off-season and the positive outlook of manager Dale Sveum could mark a coming turnaround for this franchise. Arodys Vizcaino leads a handful of promising young pitchers who could have an impact on the major league level soon. Vizcaino likely will pitch with the Cubs this year. All of these are good signs for the Cubs and their fans. They might not win this year, but they’ll be better. 2014 should see them get better still as long as the office keeps their focus on building a strong pitching staff.

David Miller is a Senior Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @davidmillerrant, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+.

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