We have plenty of roster decisions pouring in from Arizona and Florida today. Here’s one of the more interesting ones.
According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, 24-year-old right-hander Andrew Cashner has won the final spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation.
Carlos Silva entered spring training as the self-proclaimed favorite, but he pitched his way out of the job by putting up an ugly 10.90 ERA over 17 1/3 Cactus League innings. Cashner, on the other hand, posted a 3.97 ERA and 6/7 K/BB ratio over 11 1/3 innings.
The former 2008 first-round pick compiled a 4.80 ERA and 50/30 K/BB ratio over 54 1/3 innings out of the bullpen last season. It’s a bit surprising to see Cashner win the job outright, but he’s the future and well, Silva is not.
The Cubs ultimately decided to carry rookie right-hander Carlos Mateo in their bullpen, which means Silva won’t even make the Opening Day roster.
“I told Carlos Silva there was not a spot for him unless there’s an injury between now and Opening Day,” general manager Jim Hendry said. “We will explore trade opportunities with other clubs.”
Silva will be a tough sell since he’s due to make $11.5 million this season, a portion of which is being paid by the Mariners. According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, Silva said there’s “no chance” that he’ll accept a minor league assignment. He also took a shot at new Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins on the way out the door. Classy.
Some team will likely take a chance on Silva once he’s available at the league minimum — remember, he posted a 4.22 ERA and 80/24 K/BB ratio over 113 innings last season — but he sounds like more trouble than he’s worth right now.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.