If Randy Wells could find the middle ground between where he’s been most of the season and where he was Wednesday night, the Cubs would have a very good fifth starter for 2012.
As it is, Wells remains somewhat of a mystery. He hasn’t pitch particularly well since a seven week stay on the DL in April with a right forearm strain. But last night he shined against Atlanta for 6.2 innings–by far his best outing of the year.
The difficulty in projecting what kind of a pitcher Wells is, and could become, is his tendency to vacillate between the highest of highs and the lowest of lows from start to start, which he’s done for the better part of two consecutive seasons.
Playing for a non-contender with thin starting pitching has benefited Wells greatly. The opportunity has afforded him the chance to develop his pitches, improve on his weaknesses and mature his mental game, all at the big league level.
But if the Cubs were a contender, Wells would be a liability at this stage of his career. Allowing him the time and patience to prove his worth would be too costly in a playoff race, and especially for a guy who’s biggest struggle is getting out of the first inning unharmed–which is death for a bullpen in August and September.
If I were the Cubs, though, I wouldn’t give up on Wells just yet. The guy’s shown enough potential to bring him back next spring with the opportunity to win a spot in the rotation.
And if Wells does in fact earn a starting spot, that’s a huge boost for Chicago’s chances of competing next year. Otherwise, it’s on Randy to figure out the kinks–somewhere other than the North Side.