With pain, sometimes comes pleasure; for many Chicago Cub fans, Randy Wells is evidence.
With all of the talks circulating around the injury woes that the Cubs have had, no one has brought up the fact that from these injuries, the most consistent Cubs' starter has been created. Out of nowhere, the best rookie pitcher in baseball, next to J.A. Happ, has spawned.
In 2008, Wells went 10-4 with a 4.08 ERA and had 102 strikeouts in 118.67 innings pitched at Triple-A Iowa. In 2009, however, before being called up, Wells was 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 26 innings pitched.
Before starting against Milwaukee in early May for the injured Carlos Zambrano, the already 27-year-old Bellville, IL native had just four-and-a-third innings pitched under his belt for the Toronto Blue Jays. Those innings were all scoreless.
Wells went on to pitch 11 more scoreless innings in his first two starts, although unable to pick up a win, for the Cubs.
While Wells continued to press on through the season, Cubs pitchers continued to go down. Two weeks after Zambrano hit the 15-day disabled list, Rich Harden was next to find himself on the disabled list.
Eleven days after the Harden injury, Zambrano decided to be a true staff ace and leader and got suspended for a start after arguing a correct call, which the umpire was in perfect position to make.
Cubs management literally had no choice but to keep Wells in the starting rotation with water coolers being beaten and Sean Marshall struggling. Cubs management tends to work well when they have fewer decisions to make.
Wells gave up eight runs in his first 38.67 innings pitched, striking out 31 and walking eight.
In 15 games started this season, Wells has given up four earned runs in three starts, three earned runs in three starts, two earned runs in four starts, one earned run in two starts, and no earned runs in three starts. Only once this season has Wells given up more or the same runs as innings pitched, and that was against the Minnesota Twins.
Wells is currently 7-4 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.
To put this in perspective, let's look at the first 15 starts of the two aces of the St. Louis Cardinals.
In his first 15 starts (three innings more than Wells), Adam Wainwright had a 3.58 ERA. In his first 15 starts (three-and-two-thirds innings more than Wells), Chris Carpenter had a 2.25 ERA. Wells falls nicely between both pitchers.
Before making his first career start, a fantasy baseball source had this to say about Wells:
"Wells is worth monitoring, but it's hard to imagine him making much of a fantasy splash once Zambrano returns. That is, unless he is lights-out against the Brewers, which would earn at least another start or two. He'd have to be equally effective in two more starts, and Sean Marshall would have to fail miserably in the meantime. That's a lot to ask for."
The Cubs asked for a lot from Wells and he gave them a big answer. Zambrano, Harden, Ryan Dempster, and Ted Lilly have all gone on the disabled list this year and Wells has been there to pick up the slack every time; he has been the savior of the 2009 season.
With his eight shutout innings against the Astros in his last start, Wells became the first Cubs rookie pitcher to win seven games since Kerry Wood. With no Dusty Baker around to ruin him, Wells could unexpectedly fill those shoes.
Whether he can become only the second Cubs pitcher to win Rookie of the Year is yet to be seen.
Wells goes for his eighth win tonight against the Cincinnati Reds.