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Chicago Cubs may get a pitching boost from within their own ranks

Oct 7, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view of the marquee at the main entrance before game one of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball series between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 7, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view of the marquee at the main entrance before game one of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball series between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Cubs’ pitching staff may get a shot in the arm in the coming years from a hard-throwing right-hander blowing away hitters in the minors.

Since starting the year on the wrong foot, the Chicago Cubs’ relief corps has improved by virtually every measure. Wade Davis is arguably the best closer in the league through the season’s first month and guys like Hector Rondon seem to have found their groove, as well.

But, as we saw last season with the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman, you can’t ever have enough impact arms on one staff. This year, though, all eyes are on one hurler in the Cubs’ system: flame-throwing right-hander Dylan Cease.

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Following his most recent start, a 4 2/3-inning, 10-strikeout performance, that attention has only grown. Blowing away hitters with Class-A South Bend, Cease is quickly making a name for himself in baseball.

Even prior to this season, the Cubs’ front office knew what they had in Cease.

"“He’s so far away,” Jason McLeod told CSN this winter. “He’s gonna go into 2017 as a starter. As with a lot of young guys, it’s gonna come down to command and depend on that third pitch and the ability to land them for strikes."

In 23 2/3 innings spanning five starts, Cease has 37 strikeouts to his credit. Opponents are batting just 1.77 against him; he’s also limited walks, which is key as he progresses.

Nothing but good results so far

Whether or not he controls his pitches will dictate his role moving forward. Right now, he’s working as a starter. The plan entering 2017 was simple: let him develop with South Bend before moving him through the system.

Since being drafted, Cease has been nothing short of dominant. In 25 big league starts (as well as a trio of relief appearances) he’s limited opponents to a .168 average. More important, perhaps, are his 56 walks to a staggering 128 strikeouts in just 92 1/3 innings.

Chicago’s selection of Kyle Schwarber helped them land Cease, thanks to the money they saved with their first-rounder. Someday in the near future, the two may take the diamond together.

"“He was a Top 10 pick in the draft — a high school arm that got hurt, fell down to the fifth round and he had a commitment to Vanderbilt, I think it was, and we were able to use the money we saved from Kyle … Just another reason to love Kyle Schwarber.”"

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