Chicago Cubs: Is Rob Zastrynzy future rotation material?
It’s no secret that the Chicago Cubs will be hurting for starting pitching after 2017. Could Rob Zastryzny be the in-house guy they need?
Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, and, pending his 2017 option, Jason Hammel will all become free agents. Many have wondered if the Cubs will make a big trade to acquire some more pitching. However, one guy may be emerging to take over a starting role in 2018.
That guy is Rob Zastryzny. Zastryzny is the first pitcher drafted under the Theo Epstein regime to reach the big leagues. Small sample size aside, he has not disappointed. So far, in four appearances, he has pitched to a 1.08 ERA in 8.1 innings, given up seven hits, walked just three, and struck out 11, pitching to a .226 BAA. “Rob Z” as he has been referred to by the Cubs media, has experience starting. Zastryzny has made 68 career minor league starts, as opposed to just five relief appearances.
Over the course of his minor league career, Zastryzny has pitched to a 4.60 ERA, allowing 342 hits in 334 1/3 innings, walking 122, and striking out 303. That’s an opponent batting average of .266. Those may not be great numbers, by any means. There is certainly some room for improvement. This coaching staff can teach Zastryzny the tools to be a successful Major League pitcher like they are currently showing him how to do.
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As for now, it would not be surprising to see Zastryzny get some starts in September, to spell some of the regular rotation, along with Mike Montgomery, who could also serve in the same role as Zastryzny in the long-term. In the short-term, it’s a long shot for him to make the playoff roster, but Zastryzny may not see the minor leagues again if he keeps this up.
Zastryzny sits about 90-92 mph with the fastball, along with a cutter and a curve, from a high 3/4 arm slot, his delivery has deception, and the cutter has some bite to it. His issue down in the minor leagues has been control but, that has been under control, so to speak, during his short stint in the majors so far. As we’ve seen, with the proper coaching, some issues can be overcome, which has been the case with Carl Edwards, Jr. in 2016.
Now, of course, the Cubs may very well still make a big trade to get that young, controllable starter. Guys like Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly, Chris Archer, or Tyler Skaggs come to mind. The Cubs may also look into the potentially loaded free agent class of 2018 to get that starter, or two. One thing is for sure, though, Zastryzny definitely deserves a look at being a starter in the future.
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The Cubs could choose a different route other than Zastryzny to find starting pitching. Some options within the Cubs system might include Oscar De La Cruz, Ryan Williams, and newly drafted Tom Hatch. Besides, who doesn’t like a good left-handed starter?