If you’re hoping to see the Chicago Cubs big guns in the rotation this spring, you’ll have to wait. Because of the playoffs, it won’t be until the second week of the spring when they pitch. So who opens up the Cubs spring on the mound?
The Chicago Cubs will save the horses in the rotation for a few weeks due to the playoffs last season. So this will give a few of the many arms in camp a chance to show what they’ve got. The Cubs open with a split-squad game on Saturday. It will be Mike Montgomery in Mesa against the Oakland A’s at Sloan Park. While Rob Zastryzny will take the mound against the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale.
On Sunday, it will be Jake Buchanan to face the defending AL Champion Cleveland Indians. Then on Monday, another potential fifth starter in Brett Anderson will take the mound against the Chicago White Sox. It’s a group of starters who will be battling for a fifth–and sixth?–rotation spot for the Cubs. These are four of a large group of starters competing for depth on the Cubs staff.
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In Buchanan’s lone start for the Cubs last season, he impressed with his chance. In a 7-3 win over the Reds on September 30, he fired a two-hit shutout over five innings en route to the victory. It was a small sample, but enough for the Cubs to consider him for rotation depth moving forward.
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Zastryzny could become the Cubs “new” Travis Wood on the mound. I need to be careful with that statement, I’m not sure he has the bat or ability to play the field to be Wood’s full replacement. But in his 16 innings in 2016 he was impressive. In 16 innings of work, Zastryzny struck out 17 while posting a 1.06 WHIP. The plans for him in the future could change, but it’s possible he could fill that void.
Saturday’s starters are the two “frontrunners” for the last available spot in the rotation. Assuming the Cubs don’t go with a six-man rotation. After a strong year out of the bullpen after being acquired from the Royals, he seemed to be the heir apparent for the role. That hasn’t stopped the Cubs from adding to their arsenal of potential starter depth.
That thinking led to the Cubs getting Brett Anderson, another southpaw starter. Anderson spent 2016 with the Dodgers but made just four appearances–three of them starts–before missing the rest of the season following back surgery. If Anderson can maintain his health throughout the season, he could be the piece the Cubs have been looking for to finish out the rotation.
It’ll be a fun weekend for the Cubs in many aspects. First for the fans who will have Cubs baseball back in their lives after a few “long” months post World Series win. And then for the team who will begin to feel out where this 2017 is going. These starters in the first four games aren’t household names now, but you never know come October.