Around Chicago the number 23 is a pretty holy type of thing. After all, it's the number worn by the great Michael Jordan, the "Probably-Should-Have-Been-Made-Manager-Of-The-Chicago-Cubs" Ryne Sandberg, and is currently being sported by kick returner extraordinaire Devin Hester. When you talk about the number 23 around Chicago, you're talking about a tremendous amount of success -- unless of course your name is Chris Volstad.
With the Cubs most recent loss --a 10-1 throttling at the hands of the Houston Astros-- Volstad has now gone 23 starts without a win. If you want the date of the last win, it was July 17th, 2011 against the very same Houston Astros --just with very different players. This time around Volstad didn't pitch overly well, but the bullpen made the game a lot uglier. Volstad only went five innings and gave up four runs on eight hits in the process. Reliever Lendy Castillo came in for two-thirds of an inning and gave up five runs (three earned) on five hits which basically sealed Volstad's fate of game number 23 without a win. Volstad (0-9) now has a season ERA of 6.96.
When Theo Epstein brought in all the starting pitchers to compete for rotation spots, the Cubs were ultimately looking for eventual trade bait --which they absolutely found in Paul Maholm. Volstad was slightly different inasmuch as he came over when the Cubs traded problem child Carlos Zambrano to the Miami Marlins. Volstad hadn't been overly successful in Miami despite his first-round draft status, but at only 25, Volstad still had time to become a mainstay in the Cubs' rotation if he could turn things around. Since the Cubs were determined to unload Zambrano, Volstad was simply a "See-What-You-Can-Get" type trade. Unfortunately, Volstad hasn't had the miraculous change of scenery success to this point and you really start to wonder if he ever will. Luckily, it hasn't mattered much as the Cubs are a solid 45-70.
On the other side of the game, I think the Astros do have something in Lucas Harrell. The Astros are 39-79, yet Harrell is 10-8 with a 3.81 ERA. In this particular instance, he went eight innings and gave up one run on six hits. Since the All-Star break, he is 3-2 with a 2.06 ERA. Houston fans have to like what they see.
Despite the ugly record, the Cubs also have things to like, especially going forward. I'm just not sure whether Chris Volstad is one of those things.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed Major League Baseball throughout.
- Sports & Recreation
- Chris Volstad
- Houston Astros