Cubs to meet and decide Volstad's fate

May, 17, 2012
5/17/12
11:06
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs coaches and front office will meet this weekend to determine the fate of struggling starter Chris Volstad.

The right-hander lasted just two innings Thursday against the Philadelphia Phillies and fell to 0-6 this season with a 7.46 ERA. The Cubs have been defeated in all eight of his starts.

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer will now have direct input into what happens next.

As of his previous start at Milwaukee over the weekend, manager Dale Sveum said he would continue to give Volstad a chance to get out of his early-season struggles. He’s no longer offering that guarantee, a good sign that a change could be coming when that spot in the rotation comes up again next week at Houston.

[+] EnlargeChris Volstad
Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty ImagesCubs starter Chris Volstad reacts after walking the Phillies' Shane Victorino in the first inning.
“We will get together as a staff and talk to Theo and Jed and evaluate the situation, that’s for sure,” Sveum said. “We’ll see what our options are and go from there.”

The final straw for Volstad was giving up four runs in those two innings of work, loading the bases in both of those innings. He was replaced in the third inning by Casey Coleman.

“I had pitches out of the zone, walks in the first and second inning, it was just not good,” Volstad said. “We’ve been trying a lot of different things. You just have to keep working, though. There is no giving up or no quit. This is going to get better. You try everything.”

It might actually get worse for Volstad before it gets better since he could be removed from the rotation.

Coleman, who gave up just one run over four innings, is a candidate to start next week. Another candidate is Travis Wood, who picked up the victory at Triple-A Iowa on Thursday when he gave up two runs on five hits over seven innings.

Not much has gone right for Volstad, who was acquired in the offseason in the trade that sent Carlos Zambrano to the Miami Marlins. He won a starting spot out of spring training, but for the most part he has been the victim of one bad inning in each start. On Thursday he struggled from the beginning.

Sveum said that Volstad’s confidence looks nothing like it did when he was earning his starting spot down in Arizona.

“I was a little more relaxed in spring, I think,” Volstad said. “I think I’m trying too hard, trying to do different things. Just a lot of forcing instead of letting my ability take over. I know it’s in there its just a matter of tapping into it and finding it at this point.”

The last time the Cubs lost a pitcher’s first eight starts was in 2006 when they lost Angel Guzman's first 10. Volstad matched Guzman’s 0-6 start that season. Going back to last season, Volstad is now 0-11 over his last 19 appearances, last winning a game July 10.

“There is just no life, no command in really any of his pitches,” Sveum said. “He couldn’t keep the ball down again, he couldn’t keep it in. It was not a real good outing at all for the situation we were in.”

Doug Padilla

Chicago White Sox beat reporter
Doug joined ESPN Chicago in July 2010 and covers the Chicago White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jason Hammel
WINS ERA SO IP
8 2.98 104 108
OTHER LEADERS
BAS. Castro .292
HRA. Rizzo 30
RBIA. Rizzo 71
RA. Rizzo 81
OPSA. Rizzo .889
ERAT. Wood 5.03
SOJ. Arrieta 144