Don't look now, but the Cubs have themselves a pretty good starting rotation.
It should get even better when Matt Garza comes off the disabled list and pitches Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
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The man on the mound Saturday has been as good as it gets lately. Scott Feldman turned in his fifth straight quality start in the Cubs' 8-2 victory over the New York Mets at Wrigley Field.
Feldman worked 6 shutout innings to improve to 4-2 with a 2.19 ERA. Only Travis Wood among the starters has a better ERA (2.03) than Feldman, who has given up 2 or fewer runs in 7 consecutive starts for the first time in his career.
"It's hard to imagine how good he's been these last 5 starts, and the last 4 have been unbelievable," said manager Dale Sveum, whose team is 18-24. "The low stress and the length he's given, the runs he's given, there's doesn't seem like a whole lot of opportunity for the other team to score, other than solo homers. Yeah, it's been impressive."
Garza will rejoin a rotation that includes Jeff Samardzija and the struggling Edwin Jackson in addition to Feldman and Wood.
So far, Cubs starters have an ERA of 3.47 despite a 12-19 record.
"Potentially, if these guys keep throwing the ball the way they have the first six weeks, with Garza ... you don't expect a whole lot right away, but once he gets settled in, it has a chance of being a pretty nice, if not one of the top, rotations in the league right now."
Feldman stranded four Mets baserunners over the first two innings and got offense in the fourth, when the Cubs batted around and scored 4 runs. Included that inning was a 2-run double by Feldman, who has 2 doubles this year.
But pitching's the thing that's been impressive. Since losing his first 3 decisions and having an ERA of 4.50, Feldman has gone 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA in his last 5 starts.
"I feel healthy, and my arm feels good," he said. "Mechanically, everything feels a lot better than it did in spring training. Keep working on that stuff and try and keep it that way for the rest of the season."
As for the rotation, about the only downer Feldman could find was that Carlos Villanueva will be bumped from to the bullpen when Garza gets back.
"Getting Garza back should be a big boost," he said. "But at the same time, I feel for Villanueva because he's done everything that he could, really. He pitched great. I've been in that situation, and it's a tough one. I do feel bad for him, but at the same time, I think that everybody is excited to get Garza back."
The offense came up with 11 hits, including solo homers by Anthony Rizzo and Nate Schierholtz. Rizzo said it's a good feeling knowing the starter can give the team a chance every time out. The Cubs now have 26 quality starts, with their starters having an ERA of 1.93 in those games.
"It's awesome, it's a good feeling," Rizzo said. "We got Garza coming back, and hopefully, he just fits right in and jells with the rest of the staff. We know that if we score some runs, we're going to be in the game and have a chance to win."