Chris Volstad removes giant monkey from back

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Yesterday I did a top ten list of things to watch for as this season winds down.  For whatever reason I totally forgot about Chris Volstad and his pursuit of that elusive win.  Volstad hadn’t earned a victory since he was a Florida (now Miami) Marlin, more than a full year ago.  Tonight, he secured that win amongst some really terrible weather that made him wait just that much longer to get it.  There are about $2.655MM reasons why the Cubs are keeping Volstad, and while the Colorado Rockies team he dispatched isn’t that much better than the Cubs, it’s still nice to get that bad streak out of the way.

The Cubs still maintain the #2 pick despite winning the series against Colorado thanks to Volstad’s pitching today, but it wasn’t exactly a masterpiece.  Volstad got through 6.2 innings thanks in large part to his defense because he kept allowing balls in play, only striking out three batters while walking three.  He ended up allowing only one single and two doubles and luckily nobody scored before he was done for the day as the Cubs only scored two runs to that point.  So he wasn’t spectacular, but he was effective enough.  It helps, again, that the Rockies are almost as terrible as the Cubs are.

Volstad’s fellow pitchers helped out as well.  Manuel Corpas, who had a bit of a fail yesterday, helped Volstad get out of a jam before the stretch with a one-pitch out to end the inning.  Shawn Camp, who has had his own fails lately, locked down the 8th inning thanks to some superb defense behind him.  Mother Nature helped out by stopping the game before the Rockies could bat in the 9th and thus prevented the Cubs bullpen from potentially blowing the save.  Everything was going well for Volstad in this one.  Crappy opponent, teammates helping out, shortened game.  If he didn’t win today then he was probably never going to win one this season.  Although maybe that’s not true, as he is lined up to have at least two starts against the Astros and one more against the Rockies.  Then again, the Astros kind of teed off on him last time so you never know.

What does this mean for Volstad going forward?  Well, it’s still highly unlikely that the Cubs will offer him arbitration next time out.  He is still a non-tender candidate.  But the fact that he’s a ground-ball machine (almost half of the balls in play off him are grounders) and he has decent enough control makes him an interesting guy to bring back for spring training just to see what he has in my opinion.  A lot of the bad luck he has is self-made, what with all the meatballs he leaves to be cranked out of the yard or for line drive doubles.  But with an improving Cubs defense, a ground-ball machine isn’t terrible to have during a rebuild.  Give the kids more reps and a chance to improve even more.  But with guys like Brooks Raley and Chris Rusin knocking on the door, and the Cubs likely to seek other Paul Maholm type deals, Volstad is still likely to find himself forced out of the picture.  Personally I don’t really care as I’d rather the Cubs spent money on a pitcher who didn’t suck as much as Volstad if they had a choice, but if he’s willing to come back for a spring invite…why not.

Future aside, it’s nice to finally get that win out of the way.  I can kind of imagine it feeling like the end of “The Shawshank Redemption” when Andy Dufresne finally crawled out of the sewer pipe, landed in the pond outside the prison and tasted his freedom.  Let’s see if Chris Volstad can actually take advantage of this now, or if he stays in the pond until the lightning fries him.

Seriously, Andy should probably have gotten out of that pond as fast as possible during a huge thunderstorm with lightning that close.  But then it wouldn’t have been as powerful of a scene, I suppose.

Free at last!

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