Per Paul Sullivan, Dale Sveum says that Jeff Samardzija is a near lock for the rotation. Which means that the final rotation spot comes down to Randy Wells, Chris Volstad, Rodrigo Lopez and Travis Wood.
I started this spring with the prediction that the Cubs would start the season with Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Randy Wells and Chris Volstad in the rotation, with Samardzija in the pen and Wood in AAA. However, I have been pleasantly surprised by Samardzija's performance so far and feel he deserves a spot in the rotation.
There's no doubt that Shark has some of the best stuff of all the Cubs pitchers, his problem has always been controlling it. However, with zero walks in now 10 spring innings, it appears that he has learned to harness his stuff better.
But that leaves us with the question of who will win the 5th spot and what will become of the losers.
Well, with Travis Wood getting shelled again today, we can pretty much rule him out and Lopez was signed to a minor league deal as pitching depth and is likely to start the season in AAA.
Thus it comes down to Wells or Volstad.
Both have pitched well this spring and are equally deserving of the 5th spot. So, it could come down to who the Cubs think would do better in the long reliever role.
Neither Wells nor Volstad have much experience relieving in the majors. Wells has 4 relief appearances to his credit, all in 2008, while Volstad only has one relief appearance.
However, Wells did have 101 games as a reliever in the minors (Volstad only had 1) and thus could be more comfortable making the switch. Of course, the Cubs could also trade Wells, as he was rumored to be on the block over the winter.
In any case, Samardzija has turned what should have been an easy decision into a difficult one. A nice problem to have.