Through the first two weeks of the season, the Chicago Cubs have found themselves once again within the top ten in the league in quality starts. Unfortunately, for a team that has battled through 12 games, most of those quality starts have not been capitalized on due to a struggling bullpen. Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood are two starters who have dealt with some hard luck during the 2014 MLB season.
As a staff, the Cubs have compiled seven quality starts with only four wins to show for them. In five starts, Samardzija and Wood have five of those seven quality starts, but together the duo has zero wins after the first two weeks of the season. The Cubs have missed opportunities to capitalize on these good, early pitching performances which they cannot afford to do already six games back within the division.
Manager Rick Renteria has crafted a nice plan of having Wood and Samardija pitch back-to-back. It is a lefty-righty combination that gives the Cubs the optimal chance of success. The 1-2 punch has tallied 33.1 innings, allowing seven earned runs with 32 strikeouts. Another key has been the limiting of free passes to just nine by the two lead starters. The low walk total has kept pitch counts down, but still it has not been enough to get either starter into the win column due to hard luck and a struggling bullpen.
Down the road, if this trend continues it could lead to some disconnect within the clubhouse. If starters continue to see their efforts wasted, what will their mindset become? On the other hand, if starters are now left out there too long to avoid going to the bullpen, it could lead to higher pitch counts, tired arms for later on in the season and possible injuries. It is a fine line that Renteria must toe. As the club continues to grind, they must also start to capitalize on the quality starts being turned in before it is too late.
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.