Chicago Cubs’ have a lot of starting pitching depth in the minors

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

This season the Chicago Cubs have a lot of starting pitching depth held in reserve at Triple-A Iowa.

During the very beginning of this competitive window, the Cubs had barely any major league ready pitching depth in the minors. I’m not talking about prospects who might be a cornerstone of the pitching staff for years to come or even be a major piece in a trade. I’m talking about pitchers with at least some major league experience who could step in and make a spot start or be an arm in the bullpen should the need arises.

It was a little bit amazing that the pitching, which was not the developmental focus of the organization, arrived at a competitive state in the same year as the position players. Yes, the front office made some moves to acquire pitchers such as signing Jon Lester and Jason Hammel and trading for Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm.

Development is key

But if the young pitchers the Cubs traded for hadn’t developed so quickly then Theo and Jed would have needed to make more John Lackey/Jason Motte kinds of signings. That likely means it would have taken at least one more year for this group of Cubs to make the playoffs.

The Cubs were fortunate that during those early seasons they had very few pitching injuries that they needed to cover with call-ups from Triple-A. The most significant pitching deficiency the front office had to cover in 2015 was due to ineffectiveness.

It was a different time

Travis Wood and was expected to hold down a spot in the rotation, but he was forced to move to the bullpen. Just two years earlier Wood was an All-Star. Edwin Jackson was also in the middle of a four-year contract and had made 58 starts the two years before, but the Cubs were eventually forced to release him in 2015.

Since this front office had a philosophy of focusing first on developing hitters, there was almost no major league ready depth in the minors in 2015. Tsuyoshi Wada and Dallas Beeler were called up, but they combined to make only 10 starts in the rotation. Instead, the front office patched together the fifth spot in the rotation by acquiring Donn Roach, Clayton Richards and eventually Dan Haren.