Carrie Muskat mentioned in her blog that the 5th starter spot would come down to Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, and Tom Gorzelanny. In my latest edition of the projected 25 man roster, Marshall was my projected 5thstarter, with Samardzija and Gorzelanny going to the bullpen. I’m not sure if that’s the best choice for how it shake out or if my Marshall love/bias is shining through a little. It leads me to ask your opinion on the matter.

Who Will Be the 5th Starter in 2010?
Sean Marshall
Jeff Samardzija
Tom Gorzelanny
Other (Currently in house)
Other (To Be Acquired)
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Looking at the three, Samardzija has the best raw stuff, but is exactly that, raw. We’ve had him hyped down our throat for the last few years, but apart from that first wave of success, what has he really done to show he deserves that spot? In 34.2 innings of work, 7 innings more than he saw in 2008, he was awful. His strikeout / 9 innings rate went from 8.1 to 5.5, which tells you he wasn’t overpowering and out-thinking hitters as well as he was the year before. While he saw his walk rate decrease by a full walk per 9 innings, his WHIP went up exorbitantly from 1.41 to 1.76 primarily due to the fact that hitters were making more contact. That leads to more balls in play, which leads to more hits (4 more per 9 innings to be exact). What about that leads him or us to believe that he will be a viable option for a role that requires him to see hitters more than once in a game, which allows for adjustments? I’m not buying. In my book, if this becomes a three team race for that spot, the third name better not be his.

Gorzelanny is a guy that intrigues me a lot, and I was very happy when I saw he was part of the deal that brought John Grabow from the Pirates last year. It’s hard for me to, without being a total hypocrite, say Gorzelanny is a good option as the 5th starter when I completely write off Samardzija, but I’m ok withbeing called out. The only thing I have to go by is the success in 2006 and 2007 when he was a combined 16-15 (not good, but consider the team) with an ERA of 3.86. Since then, he’s been brutal to the tune of 13-12 with an ERA of 6.32. Doing it once has me thinking he can do it again. He has the most experience as a starting pitcher, which is also a plus in his favor. I think that if he can win the job outright, I’d be fine with seeing him in that spot. I put Marshall in there as of now simply because I think he’ll be the choice. If Gorzelanny ends up getting it, Marshall has shown he can pitch and pitch well out of the bullpen.

It’s long been noted that I’m a Marshall guy, so my opinion on his is a little biased. I think he has the makings of a very good back of the rotation type guy that fits in as a 4 or 5 guy in most rotations. His splits seem to tell a different story:

Split          W  L  ERA  G GS SV    IP  SO  WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
Starter       16 26 4.86 59 59  0 311.0 211 1.434  6.1  1.79
Reliever       3  3 3.15 75  0  1  68.2  59 1.354  7.7  1.90

Looking at those numbers, it appears that his role in the pen seems to fit him nicely, which is why I’m OK with Gorzelanny taking the bull by the horns and winning the spot.

Overall, it will be interesting to see if it comes down to one of the three mentioned above or if a new candidate emerges either from the organization or from outside. That’s why I want to hear from you. Who’s your choice for that spot and why? Let’s get a good discussion going.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail