Friday, May 28, 2010
Cashner is projected as a starter and has been performing well in that role at AAA Iowa, so messing around with the kid is understandably worrying, but is it something that is as horribly Cub-like as converting the major league team's longest tenured, highest paid, and multi-Opening Day starter into a set-up man in the bullpen? It really wouldn't surprise me to learn that it was, but I also knew pitchers like Francisco Liriano, Johan Santana, and David Price had broken in with teams that needed help in the bullpen more than in the rotation, and they all seemed to be doing well. So, to get a bit more perspective, I took a look to see how other top level pitchers have been handled at the beginnings of their careers.
As a jumping off point, I went and checked the top ten active WAR leaders for pitching and eliminated Mario Rivera since he is a reliever (and as far as I know has always been projected as a reliever). I then looked at the first year of each pitcher's significant contribution to their team, where I used about 15 games entered as a low-water mark.
Of course, conventional wisdom seems to lend some credibility the Cubs fans' angst. I also looked at the top four pitchers taken in the 2004 and 2005 drafts who have made significant contributions to their teams and found that the group has only made five relief appearances at the major league level out of 167 appearances.
This is an admittedly rudimentary investigation, but it seems the Cubs are going against convention. However, it may not automatically lead to disaster for young Mr. Cashner either. Given the flameout rate of young pitchers anyway, I can't say I'm theoretically against using him in the bullpen. And, since this is the Cubs we're talking about, I'm sure they'll find some way to mess him up no matter what role they put him in, so I say to them: Go for it if you think it will help.
Check this out at Aisle 424: Are the Cubs Destroying Andrew Cashner?Tweet this! Posted by SixRowBrewCo at 10:22 PM