It appears the Cubs have a problem.
As the team decides on its 25-man roster for Opening Day 2009, several pitchers are making things tough on Chicago's management. Some of those pitchers, like the young David Patton and veteran Chad Fox, have been thoroughly impressive throughout the month of March.
Others have been flat out disappointing.
Angel Guzman, a talented pitcher that has battled injuries throughout his professional career, can't quite seem to get it together. Jeff Samardzija, a fan favorite from 2008, has appeared hittable, and may benefit from more time in the minors.
And then there's Chad Gaudin.
Gaudin is currently sporting a 10.54 ERA this spring, with only nine strikeouts, and an equal number of walks, collected over 13.2 innings. His 20 hits allowed give him a WHIP well above 2.00.
Also noteworthy: the fact that Gaudin ended the 2008 season with 17 earned runs allowed over 15.2 innings.
Simply put, Chad's been bad.
Fortunately for the Cubs, it hasn't always been this way. Fans may recall Gaudin's July performance from this past year. During that time, Chad allowed only three earned runs over 14 innings, while posting a 1.00 WHIP and getting a strikeout per inning.
It's this previous success that will likely earn Gaudin a spot on the Cubs' Opening Day roster this year. There's also the added pressure from the fact that Gaudin is out of options, meaning he will immediately be made available to all major league teams if not kept on the Cubs major league roster throughout this season.
If Gaudin is in fact listed on the 25-man roster, the Cubs will instead say goodbye to Guzman, who is also out of options. On the other hand, the Cubs may want to avoid the risk of Gaudin's underperforming in meaningful games, and attempt to package him with Guzman for prospects that could be stashed in the farm system.
If Gaudin fails to make the team, watch for Patton and Fox, who have earned a second look for 2009, to make some April appearances to try to prove their worth to the team. Behind those pitchers are Samardzija and Iowa prospect Kevin Hart, both high-potential strikeout machines that could contribute to the big league club in 2009.