Another waste of a quality starting staff

CINCINNATI -- It’s starting to get ridiculous for the Chicago Cubs' starting staff.

Day after day, night after night, they take the mound and throw quality inning after quality inning ... and come away with very little to show for it.

It was Jeff Samardzija’s turn to see a solid effort wasted; this time it wasn’t the bullpen, but the offense that came up short on Wednesday in the Cubs' 1-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

“It was an unbelievably pitched game. We’re just having trouble hitting the outfield grass when we get people on base,” manager Dale Sveum said afterward.

The good news is the Cubs are building for the future and no future can be had without a solid starting five:

Samardzija will be there, Travis Wood is proving he should be, too. Carlos Villanueva is only 29, so he might be part of a core group as well. Add Edwin Jackson, who’s signed for four years, and maybe the Cubs have most of their rotation set.

But imagine if Chicago's defense and bullpen was just middle-of-the road instead of abysmal this year? The starters would have more than three wins and the Cubs overall would have more than six. They’d probably be contending.

After Samardzija’s six-inning, single-run effort on Wednesday, the Cubs' five starters boast a 2.97 ERA. That ranks third in all of baseball. Every other starting staff in the top 10 in that category has a winning record. Cubs starters aren’t even close to .500 at 3-11.

“The starting pitching has been solid and it’s a shame we’ve wasted it so far,” general manager Jed Hoyer said on Tuesday.

And that more than anything is what is so frustrating about this young season. There were so many years the Cubs couldn’t find competent starters, and now when they have no team surrounding them, they might just have one of the better staffs in the game. At least in April.

A quality start is defined as a starter going six innings and giving up three or fewer earned runs. The Cubs have pitched 12 of them out of 20 games, but are only 6-6 in those starts. A waste, indeed.


--Samardzija hurt a finger near a nail on his pitching hand trying to field the first ground ball of the game off the bat of Shin-Soo Choo. Blood could be seen on his hand, and the trainer and Sveum paid a visit to the mound.

“It was good enough to have blood, but wasn’t bad enough not to pitch,” Sveum said of the minor injury.

Samardzija put “glue” on it between innings to prevent it from opening up.

--Sveum pinch hit Alfonso Soriano with one out in the eighth inning, with the tying and leading runs on base. But Soriano struck out.

“That’s a tip of your hat to the pitcher on that at-bat,” Sveum said.

--All 20 games the Cubs have played this season have been decided by four or fewer runs, while 17 of them have been decided by three or fewer.


“We rallied from a poor series to a really well-played series, just coming up short scoring runs.” -- Sveum, on losing two one-run games to the Reds after getting swept in Milwaukee.