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MLB Chicago Cubs

Early Grades For Chicago Cubs’ Starting Rotation And Bullpen

Early Grades for Chicago Cubs' Starting Rotation and Bullpen

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One thing has been certain for the Chicago Cubs this year: the pitching is well ahead of the offense. With what sometimes looks like a triple-A lineup, the Cubs have often struggled to score. This has been unfortunate, because three starters have kept them in games and some of the bullpen work has been okay. However, glaring weaknesses at the No. 5 spot and the closer role have hurt the Cubs so far this season.

6. Bullpen: C

Bullpen
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6. Bullpen: C

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It's been a bit of everything from the Cubs' bullpen, where both Justin Grimm (9.2 IP, 1 ER, 12 Ks) and Hector Rondon (9.2 IP, 1 ER, 10 Ks) have been brilliant, but much of the work of Cubs pitching in close games has been undone by closer Jose Veras, who hasn't converted a save opportunity yet.

5. Carlos Villanueva: F

Villanueva
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5. Carlos Villanueva: F

Villanueva
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Villanueva has been terrible so far as a starter and he's made two appearances out of the bullpen. For the season, he's 1-for-4 and in just 14 innings, he's given up 29 hits and 17 earned runs, good for an ERA of 10.93. He's not only the Cubs' worst pitcher, but one of the worst in all of baseball.

4. Edwin Jackson: C

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4. Edwin Jackson: C

Jackson
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Jackson has been up and down so far in four starts for the Cubs this season, giving up just one earned run in five-plus innings on April 2 at Pittsburgh, then allowing six earned runs in 4.2 innings a few days later against the same Pirates. Jackson's last two starts have been okay, with six earned runs and 16 hits in 11.2 innings. Jackson's K:BB is rather weak at 19:13.

3. Jason Hammel: B

Hammel
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3. Jason Hammel: B

Hammel
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Unlike Jackson, who is struggling to get past the fifth inning in his starts, Hammel has been a relative innings-eater, averaging nearly seven innings per outing in his three starts. Hammel is 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA and most impressively has walked just five batters while striking out 16. Opposing hitters are batting just .143 against Hammel so far this season.

2. Travis Wood: B-

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2. Travis Wood: B-

Wood
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Wood hasn't quite been as effective as Hammel so far and that's reflected in his grade. All three of Hammel's outings have been quality starts, while Wood is 2-for-3 in that department. Wood's ERA is slightly lower at 3.00 and his control has been very good (four walks, 19 strikeouts). He's averaging exactly six innings and 104 pitches per start, but is 0-2.

1. Jeff Samardzija: A

Samardzija
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1. Jeff Samardzija: A

Samardzija
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It's criminal that Samardzija has no wins to show for his work this season. The Shark is 0-2 despite four quality starts, 28 innings, an ERA of just 1.29 and 22 strikeouts vs. only seven walks. Samardzija has allowed only 22 hits and just one homer so far this season, but he either doesn't get support or the bullpen blows it. The Cubs are 1-3 in his starts, having scored a total of one run in the three losses.