You can’t fault James Russell for his brutal starts.
He’s simply doing what he shouldn’t have to…making the tough transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation–mid-season.
I give the kid all the credit in the world for stepping up to the challenge. Despite the awful outcomes through two starts–8 ER in 5.2 IP–he’s handled the situation with poise…handled the situation like a true pro. That, in its self, is a credit to his character.
After working his butt off last year to make the Cubs’ bullpen, he then worked his tail off again this spring to come back as a reliever. Now, by necessity, he’s pitching where he doesn’t belong–in the rotation.
The man he’s replacing, Andrew Cashner, is weeks away from a return (if there is one) from shoulder problems. Russell isn’t, and shouldn’t be, the long-term answer.
Putting this kid through another start isn’t fair to him or the Cubs. Quade may have limited options, dare I say Samardzija, but there needs to be a better fix.
The last thing Russell needs is a confidence problem, and running him out to the mound every fifth day is sure to take its toll on him mentally. Russell belongs in the pen, and that’s not his problem. That, my friends, is one for Jim Hendry to figure out–and fast.