Next up for our "Cubbies Season Outlooks" is fifth starter hopeful and bullpen option Chad Gaudin.
Until about two weeks ago, I was assigned to Sean Marshall, but Bobby E and I switched just so I could write on Gaudin, because I believe Gaudin is going to have a very solid season as an important part of the Cubs' pitching staff.
Sean Marshall has stepped up big time during Spring Training to all but clinch the fifth starter spot, while Gaudin has pitched himself into the bullpen with a 10.38 ERA this spring.
However, I still believe Gaudin is going to be an integral part of the Cubs this year.
When you have a guy like Rich Harden in your rotation, you can be assured that your “sixth starter” is going to be a pretty key component of your team. Harden is probably going to make at least one trip to the DL, not to mention the fact that he’ll probably take starts off to rest his balky shoulder (or whatever injury pops up this year), or maybe if he has a start that falls on Boxing Day someone else will be called in to get the start.
Consequently, just because a guy is in the bullpen does not mean he’ll be trapped there.
I look for Chad Gaudin to be the guy who steps in as that sixth starter, even though Aaron Heilman has been stellar this spring with a 1.13 ERA.
Gaudin came to the Cubs last June when the Cubs dealt for Rich Harden on July 8 with the Oakland A’s as insurance for Harden.
Gaudin joins fellow Cajuns Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot to complete the Cubs Louisiana connection. He was drafted out of high school in the 34th round of the 2001 draft by the Devil Rays. Check out his draft card:
Gaudin rocketed through Tampa Bay’s minor league system, making his Major League debut in 2003 at age 20.
He had a solid first year in the bigs, but shuffled between Durham and Tampa in 2004 before ultimately being given to the Toronto Blue Jays for backup catcher Kevin Cash.
Gaudin lasted only one season in Toronto, spending most of his time playing for AAA Syracuse and struggled when called up. Apparently someone forgot to tell Toronto that Gaudin was still only 22 years old with a lot of potential because he was traded to Oakland for a player to be named before the 2006 season.
Gaudin spent the 2006 season pitching admirably out of the bullpen, and was moved to the rotation full time in 2007, with moderate success.
If you couldn’t tell, most of Gaudin’s career has been marked by his teams not knowing what to do with him. Gaudin spent the first half of 2008 as a utility pitcher (exactly what he’ll be doing this year), pitching whenever needed and pitching well.
Gaudin was excellent for his first month with the Cubs, but struggled mightily in his last 11 appearances, giving up three or more runs four times pitching as middle reliever.
His ERA was 3.26 before that stretch, but finished at 4.40.
Expect to see much more of the Gaudin that took the mound early in 2008, as opposed to the Gaudin that toed the rubber at the end of last season.
He has an opportunity to create a long-time home as a Chicago Cub, something he has not yet been able to do in the majors. There is no question that he features big league stuff, and he’ll just be 26 years old next week.
Gaudin throws both a four seam and two seam fastball, the former of which tops out in the low to mid-90’s. Gaudin also has a very good slider and changeup that he uses when starting.
Expect Gaudin to willingly and successfully fill whatever role he needs to this season, and I look forward to watching him.
Here are my projections for this season, as well as his career stats:
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