As pitchers and catchers will report in the coming days, the Cubs have 4/5 of their rotation all but set and there are plenty of candidates for that final spot.
Players like Jacob Turner, Travis Wood, Felix Doubront and Edwin Jackson are all expected to compete for that final spot in the rotation and while Wood appears to be the favorite, Turner could make an interesting case to earn the final spot in what figures to be an interesting rotation heading into 2015.
Jacob Turner is in an interesting position looking towards the roster of the upcoming season. He’s out of options so he has to make the 25-man roster because he’s not eligible to be sent to the Minors. If he doesn’t make it, he’d have to be exposed to waivers and there’s no chance he would slip back to the Cubs, especially considering that he’s still young and that his stuff is filthy – when he’s able to command it properly.
Pitching coach Chris Bosio has had plenty of success turning pitchers’ careers in the past three seasons for the Cubs. Players like Jason Hammel – who returned to the team after signing a two-year, $20 million deal this offseason -, Paul Maholm and even Jake Arrieta – who finished ninth in the Cy Young voting last season – all have benefited from Bosio’s coaching and there’s no question that Turner could be the next one in that list.
Turner’s a former first-round pick from the 2009 Draft but his numbers haven’t been very good in the last few years (6-11, 6-13 ERA last year). He does have some interesting things going in his favor. He’s very young as he will be 23 come Opening Day and if he improves his command a bit (3.2 BB/9 in his career) he’d only be scratching the surface of his potential. He works with a FB that sits in the 90-93 MPH range but can reach 95 MPH if needed and complements it with a curveball and a changeup that need to be more consistent if he wants to make it as a starter.
Considering that he has good velocity but some struggles with his command, it wouldn’t be strange to see Turner as a bullpen arm as the season advances. He’d be able to add a few ticks to his velocity coming from the pen and his command issues wouldn’t be as noticeable.
Turner might be able to start down the road but as things stand now, he’d be better suited for a bullpen role. He’s simply too talented and the Cubs would regret if they let him go.