April 22, 2024

Fortunately, the Cubs have some options.
ICYMI, Jameson Taillon was withdrawn from his scheduled Saturday start against the Rockies at Sloan Park after leaving his bullpen warmup with a back injury. The team wants to learn more about that today.

If you watch the video I took of his warmup on Saturday at that link, you’ll notice Taillon moved extremely slowly off the bullpen mound.

So the question is: if Taillon is out for a while or does not make the Opening Day roster, who will fill his rotation spot?

Unlike previous years, the Cubs have some options. Here are some probable options.

Drew Smyly

 

Drew Smyly's perfect game bid ends in agonizing fashion for Cubs

 

Smyly is set to start Sunday’s game against the Rangers. His first 15 starts last year were fairly strong, with a 3.38 ERA and 1.222 WHIP. After that, he posted a 9.35 ERA in his next four starts and was demoted to the bullpen. He performed well initially, but in three consecutive starts, he allowed 19 earned runs in 13⅓ innings and was relegated to bullpen duties.

In 12 relief appearances, Smyly had a 1.53 ERA, 1.245 WHIP, and only allowed one home run in 17⅔ innings. He appears to be more suited for the long-term relief role.

Javier Assad

 

Javier Assad has proved he can be part of the Cubs' long-term pitching  equation - Marquee Sports Network

 

Assad has appeared in 41 Cubs games over the last two seasons, starting 18 of them. He has performed successfully in both roles:

Starter: 2.99 ERA, 1.317 WHIP, 90⅓ innings, 13 HR allowed.
Reliever: 3.18 ERA, 1.235 WHIP in 56⅔ innings with 4 HR allowed.

Seems a little better out of the pen, especially when keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Hayden Wesneski

 

How the Cubs are viewing a pair of young pitchers after 2023 struggles -  Marquee Sports Network

 

Wesneski had a fantastic spring in 2023, earning the fifth starter spot. He went on to have eight starts with a 5.03 ERA, 1.322 WHIP, and ten home runs in 39 innings, despite the fact that four of those starts were decent. (The other four do not look. (Do not say I didn’t warn you.)

He was then assigned to Triple-A Iowa and was up and down multiple times before returning to the majors, throwing largely in relief. He had a decent September, with a 3.00 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 15 innings across 11 games.

Some (including me) have commented about Wesneski’s tendency to think too much on the mound rather than pitch, particularly with runners on base. He has talent and a solid pitch mix, but I sometimes think he should pitch more and think less.

Ben Brown

 

Cubs Pitching Prospect Ben Brown is Going on the Injured List (UPDATE:  Overall Good News) - Bleacher Nation

 

While Brown has mostly been a starter since being acquired in a trade in 2022, I believe the Cubs envision him starting his MLB career in the bullpen. He has allowed one run in six relief innings so far this spring. He has no MLB experience, therefore I believe the Cubs would rather go with one of the other three.

What are your thoughts? If Taillon is gone for an extended period of time, I believe the Cubs will go with Smyly, although you may have a different opinion.

One more note: Some of you may say, “Sign Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell.” I can almost guarantee that will not happen.

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