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Friday, September 6, 2013
Chris Rusin still a work in progress

By Bruce Levine

As the Chicago Cubs develop their rotation for the future, certain road bumps will occur for the young pitchers trying to claim a starting spot for 2014 and beyond.

Left-hander Chris Rusin, who had been impressive in most of his previous nine major league starts this season, didn't have his command on Friday. Rusin, who has thrown his hat into the ring for a starting job next season, could not survive the fourth inning against Milwaukee despite having a five-run lead to work with.

"Sometimes you have to let your pitcher have some time to see what will work," catcher Welington Castillo said. "Today it didn’t work for him. In most of these situations, you must continue to pitch and try to compete."

Rusin has made tremendous strides as far as the perception of his future in the organization is concerned. The 26-year-old surpassed his career high in innings pitched Friday (174 between the majors and minors). As for any fatigue setting in, the Michigan native looks past that barrier.

"You just go every five days and don’t think about the innings you had the season before that," Rusin said. "It is good that I have passed that innings total from last year, and now I am just trying to build on that. The one thing I have learned is I can be consistent for however many innings I pitched this year."

The value of having a second left-handed starter to pair Travis Wood can make a big difference in the Cubs' rebuilding plan. Rusin came into his start with a 2.74 ERA.

"He got his pitch count up, and I think he would tell you he didn’t have his best stuff," said manager Dale Sveum, who took his starter out with two on and two out in the fourth inning despite a big lead. "We had the game in hand, and I did not want anything to happen there. (Jonathan) Lucroy’s record against left-handers, let alone he is having a heck of a season, and what he has done against us the last two years (forced the move)."

Rusin will most likely get four more starts, which could push his innings pitched over 200.

"I want to be more consistent, as I said, and not be in a slump to long," Rusin said. "I think I have been able to do that."