COMMENTARY | The Chicago Cubs' starting rotation has been one of the bright spots for the team in 2013.
But as the team prepares to move into season three under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, fans are beginning to get antsy.
They aren't getting antsy because they expect to be winning already (most have more sense than that) -- they're getting antsy because they have watched a multitude of attractive prospects get pumped into the organization and want to see them in action. In short, Cubs fans are tired of getting excited over what they might have; they are ready to be excited for what they do have.
Unfortunately, the starting rotation won't offer any relief in the short term. Most of the infused prospects at the position are still a little ways off, and, from the looks of it, the starting rotation for 2014 is pretty similar to what we're seeing this season.
As I wrote previously, the Cubs should be careful when it comes to giving Samardzija that long-term deal that seems to be on the horizon. He has shown signs of the dominance everyone seems to claim he has, but his inconsistency has been the much bigger story in 2013. But with two years of arbitration eligibility before free agency, it's probably a safe bet that Samardzija is in the rotation next season.
Probably the most pleasant surprise of 2013 for the Cubs. Wood's consistency has presumably solidified him as an anchor in the rotation for years to come. It seems surprising that so much talk has been around Samardzija when Wood has pitched better, more consistently, and is two years younger.
For better or worse, Jackson will be around for a few years -- his four-year contract at $13 million per year almost guarantees it. So long as Jackson isn't expected to be more than a middle-of-rotation starter, this shouldn't be all together bad for the Cubs. He's durable, eats innings, and has the ability to put together stretches of legitimacy. But let's be clear: He's a No. 4 or 5 starter at this point.
Unless the final month of the season goes especially awry for Rusin, he should have a very real chance of cracking the rotation in 2014. He's pitched well (3-3, 3.06 ERA in six starts), is only 26, and should benefit from the Cubs' pitching prospects still be a little ways away from the majors. It's too early to determine if Rusin is a possibility for the long term, but everyone should get a long look at him in the near future.
The fifth spot is wide open; Arrieta just seems like the most-logical choice based on who is on the current roster. This spot could be filled by a trade-bait free agent (like Scott Feldman was this season) or a surprise prospect. Regardless, Arrieta's career numbers are ugly (5.39 ERA in 70 games -- 64 starts), but he will have a chance to impress over the last month of this season.
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Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo! Contributor Network and Yahoo! Sports. He is also a senior in college majoring in English and Creative Writing.
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