Monday, July 21, 2014
Wada rounds out Cubs' rotation
By Ron Matejko Special to ESPNChicago.com
PHOENIX -- Even though names have been written into the spots of the Chicago Cubs' fourth and fifth starters following the revelation that Tsuyoshi Wada will start Wednesday against the San Diego Padres, the team's rotation remains very much in flux.
Wada -- like 24-year-old Kyle Hendricks, scheduled to take the hill when the Cubs open a 10-game homestand Tuesday -- has limited major league experience, and manager Rick Renteria said performance will dictate how long he and Hendricks keep their starting roles.
Cubs manager Rick Renteria said left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada was "very calm and poised" in his big league debut July 8, in which he got no decision.
The difference between the two, though, is that what the 33-year-old Wada lacks in MLB experience, he makes up for with overall experience. The left-hander pitched in Japan from 2003-2011, racking up a 107-61 record with a 3.13 ERA and 1,329 strikeouts.
Wada was in line for the win in his major league debut against Cincinnati on July 8 when he left the game after five innings with a 5-1 lead. In that outing, Wada allowed just one unearned run on five hits and a walk while striking out three.
"He did a nice job against Cincinnati," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "I know he only threw five innings but I thought his command was a lot better.
"He got out of a jam in the fifth and worked through it. It seemed like he was working both sides of the plate and elevated when he needed to. I thought he was very calm and poised."
Improved control and more efficient use of his pitches in Wada's recent starts for Chicago and Triple-A Iowa were enough for him to earn this opportunity over Dan Straily and Dallas Beeler.
Those recent performances are a stark contrast to spring training, when he was brought into camp on a minor-league deal. Back then, Wada was elevating his pitches and his command was off. He also had trouble pitching out of jams.
That's not the case any longer.
Wada has a track record of success in Japan, and if he can continue his recent string of quality starts here, he could bring some stability to an unstable starting rotation.