Chicago Cubs: Most likely September call-ups who can contribute
By Jake Misener
Chicago Cubs Call-up Candidates: Duane Underwood
Duane Underwood has long been mentioned as a potential starting rotation piece for future Cubs teams. But, at this point, the idea of using him out of the bullpen is more than a passing thought.
The right-hander, still only 23 years of age, battled injuries early in his career. In 2017, Underwood pitched for Double-A Tennessee as MLB.com’s #77 overall prospect. In 22 games (21 starts), he owns a 4.39 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 2.03 SO/BB ratio. Those aren’t exactly awe-inspiring numbers.
Still, scouts remain high on his potential. But, for the most part, he hasn’t lived up to the hype. Chicago could hope to catch lightning in a bottle and get him on a hot streak late in the year with the Cubs, but it’s a big risk. Furthermore, Underwood has pitched exclusively out of the rotation in his professional career and the team has showed no signs of changing course.
"When he’s at his best, Underwood can display a double-plus fastball and a plus curveball and changeup. His fastball can sit at 93-95 mph and touches 97 with late life that generates ground balls, though he still has to prove he can hold that velocity deep into games and over a full season. His secondary pitches can be as erratic as they are promising, and he also has added a hard cutter that Chicago may have him turn into a true slider."
Underwood probably needs time with Iowa before he can be trusted against big-league hitters. Still, with Uehara, Wilson and Edwards falling short of expectations, it could feasibly happen.