Rotation key in 2013 for positive Cubs

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
4:31
PM CT
PITTSBURGH -- The Chicago Cubs will leave Pittsburgh with their heads held high, feeling like it was their play and not the Pittsburgh Pirates’ late-season fade that helped them to some rare road success.

The Cubs were even competitive Sunday with a starting pitcher in Chris Rusin, who was making his third big-league start, and a catcher in Anthony Recker, who was making his first appearance with the Cubs. A 4-2 victory gave Cubs their first series sweep since last August when they rolled through a four-game series at Pittsburgh

[+] EnlargeJeff Samardzija
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJeff Samardzija believes the young Cubs could surprise people next season.
Potential 2013 staff ace Jeff Samardzija isn’t buying into all those models that show a slow rebuild. He has an almost-worst-to-first mentality.

“The way I look at it is, you look at any professional sport and there are quick turnarounds, period,” Samardzija said. “Everybody here is a good player and the talent level here is closer than you think. You look at teams that have a ton of talent and they don’t have great years. You have to look at it in a positive way that if we get off to a hot start and our young guys are playing good and get some confidence, anything can happen, especially in these long seasons.”

It’s still a huge long shot for the Cubs to be contending by 2013, but Samardzija and Matt Garza will comprise the top of the order. Along with some youngsters that have been impressive at times like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs have a solid foundation on which they can build upon.

If they want to show any consistency, though, it will start with the rotation.

“You’ve got two guys (in Samardzija and Garza) that are on that verge or capable of being those shut-down No. 1 guys with the stuff they have,” manager Dale Sveum said. “You have two guys who throw 95 mph and have command and have secondary pitches and pitch-ability and the will to do it and go out and there and want to pitch nine innings and the work ethic they both have. That’s a pretty nice place to start going into spring training next year.”

Adding to the rotation will be key. Just because the Cubs appear to be giving starting-rotation tryouts over the final month doesn’t mean that those are the pitchers that will fill out the rotation.

Will the Cubs look at adding a proven starter this offseason?

“Yeah on a realistic basis you’re looking at seeing who’s out there and then it could be more than that,” Sveum said. “Whatever resources we have to spend sometimes and you go from there, but there is obviously some pieces that we have to put together and the more competition and the more you have the better off you’re going to be.”

There is no doubt the Cubs will be a young team next year and the positive Samardzija doesn’t see that as a bad thing.

“Our young roster should help us out in staying healthy and staying into it every game,” Samardzija said. “You just expect everyone to put in the work in the offseason that everyone else is. You never know what’s going to happen. Everybody has something left to prove and there is an opportunity for all these kids to prove something.

“You have to take advantage of it because these things don’t happen too often. It’s the same mentality I had this year that I didn’t know if I would get another opportunity to start so when I got that opportunity to start I didn’t want to waste it.”

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
2 3.05 16 20
OTHER LEADERS
BAE. Bonifacio .339
HRA. Rizzo 2
RBIA. Rizzo 8
RA. Rizzo 9
OPSA. Rizzo .922
ERAJ. Samardzija 1.29
SOT. Wood 19