Big, Ugly Numbers For Three-Fifths Of Cubs' Rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 16: Starting pitcher Casey Coleman #27 of the Chicago Cubs watches a fly ball as he works against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 16, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

There are two things that make the Chicago Cubs utterly unique.

One, they play their home games inside a brick- and ivy-lined gem called Wrigley Field.

And two, they've got three starting pitchers with earned-run averages that begin with the number 7.

The first of those things is a very good thing; the second is very, very far from a good thing.

The good news is that the ERA thing probably isn't permanent.

Ryan Dempster's 7.20 ERA is bizarre, considering his 4.44 career mark and (especially) his 3.85 ERA last season. Dempster obviously hasn't pitched well, but his biggest problem is that he's given up 10 home runs in 45 innings. That's not good and he's almost certainly made some bad pitches, but if you take away five of those home runs -- five pitches, five swings, five long fly balls -- his home-run rate is perfectly normal, and his ERA less ugly. Which is probably what happens going forward, assuming Dempster's not hurt.

James Russell's 7.71 ERA -- actually 10.05 in four starts -- is no longer relevant, as veteran Doug Davis has completed a short minor-league rehab stint and will make his Cubs debut on Saturday against the Giants. Doug Davis vs. Ryan Vogelsong. A matchup for the ages (or the aged, anyway).

So a little trust and a little Doug Davis, and two out of three problems are solved.

But then there's also Casey Coleman and -- after another rough outing Thursday afternoon -- his 7.22 ERA. Coleman's now occupying the rotation slot that will eventually be held by Randy Wells. But Wells, recovering from a forearm injury, won't even begin his minor-league rehab assignment until next week, which means Coleman's slot will come up at least once and probably two or three times before Wells is ready. Which means he should have plenty of chances to get that ERA into the 6's. Because I checked, and at the moment he might actually be their best available starter.

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