The struggling right-hander will seek to produce a breakthrough outing while helping the Cubs snap a nine-game road losing streak to the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday afternoon.
Chicago’s rotation has posted a 2.48 ERA over the last 18 games after putting up a 4.98 ERA during a 3-11 start, but Volstad (0-4, 6.55 ERA) hasn’t given up fewer than four runs in any of his last five outings.
The right-hander allowed five runs over five innings last Saturday during a 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers and dropped to 0-9 in 17 starts since July 10. He gave up just four hits in that game but two were during a three-run second inning and the other two during a two-run fifth.
Opponents are batting .203 against the right-hander with no one on base, but Volstad is struggling out of the stretch—opponents are hitting .362 with a runner on base and .424 with someone in scoring position.
“It’s probably more of an approach,” Volstad told the team’s website. “Just execution, basically. I don’t know if that it can be mental or what. It could be mechanical, too, though. … It’s something we’ve got to look at, because there’s obviously something going on when runners get on.”
Volstad has been better at limiting Milwaukee (14-18) over his career as he’s 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA in five matchups. He gave up a season-low three runs April 9 at Wrigley Field in his Cubs debut, but the game was tied when he exited after the fifth inning of a 7-5 loss.
For the right-hander to get that elusive victory, he might need a better performance from his bullpen, which blew a pair of leads in an 8-7 loss in 13 innings. Lendy Castillo, the last reliever available, failed to record an out in the final frame and gave up a bases-loaded single to Corey Hart to end the game.
“There was a lot going on,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. “A lot of really good things, quite a few not-so-good things on both sides. It was an interesting ballgame. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
The win was only the Brewers’ third in nine games this month, and Shaun Marcum (1-1, 3.41) will try to lead his team to another victory with another strong outing against the Cubs.
The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three career starts versus Chicago (13-19) and allowed three runs and five over six innings while outdueling Volstad on April 9.
Marcum, though, hasn’t earned a win since that outing and hasn’t received a decision in his last four starts. He pitched seven scoreless innings in San Diego on May 1 and gave up three runs over six frames Sunday in San Francisco.
The Cubs’ Starlin Castro, who is riding a 10-game hit streak, is 1 for 10 in his career against the right-hander, and David DeJesus is 1 for 19, his worst showing against any pitcher he’s faced at least 19 times.
Former Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez is 6 for 14 (.429) against Volstad.