Chicago Cubs: Former starting pitchers to be stretched out early


The Chicago Cubs have several former starters in the bullpen that could be a big part of their success in 2016.

The Chicago Cubs have several pitchers in their bullpen who have been starters at one time or another, and some had moderate success in the role. With just one or two spots “up for grabs”, Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon intends to get those guys loose early and ready to start if necessary. The Cubs didn’t have a single starter from the rotation on the disabled list last year, although Jason Hammel missed some time with the hamstring injury he never hit the DL.

For pitchers it’s much easier to be stretched out as a starter and then go back into the bullpen instead of the other way around. That, added with the “limits” on defending NL Cy Young Jake Arrieta as well as the first month being a time when you don’t want to push your starters too hard, the Cubs may have an ideal situation for Maddon to use.

Kyle Hendricks and Hammel figure to be the favorites to claim the last two spots, but Adam Warren who came over from the Yankees in the Starlin Castro trade, as well as Clayton Richard, Travis Wood and Trevor Cahill could push for a spot. With high expectations for the Cubs, Maddon will likely be smarter with his starters innings to keep them fresh for October. You can never assume, but that’s not really what Maddon does.

Having former starters in the bullpen with a bigger repertoire allows them to get through a lineup more than once if necessary. Iif Maddon is forced–or chooses–to go to the pen early he’ll have option that can go multiple innings. This will keep his big guns like Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon from making too many appearances where teams see them more often. Think Brian Schlitter if you’re wondering why that matters.

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The Cubs may be setting a new blueprint for how MLB pitching staffs are built, and with a manager like Maddon who’s known to do things differently as it is, this could be the perfect situation.