Chicago Cubs’ have a lot of starting pitching depth in the minors
Depth is available
This year’s pitching staff will have more major league ready starting depth available at Triple-A than any year since Tom Ricketts bought the team. If the Cubs need someone to make an emergency start or hold down a spot in the rotation for a while, they will have several options.
Last season Jen-Ho Tseng was named the Cubs minor league pitcher of the year for the second time. He made one start just before the end of the season for the big league club. That one start wasn’t great as Tseng gave up five runs in six innings. It appeared as if Tseng was understandably nervous to be making his first start in the major leagues. The good news after being signed as an armature free agent by the Cubs in 2013, Tseng is on the cusp of being a major leaguer.
Eddie Butler is out of minor league options, so if he doesn’t make the major league team out of spring training, a rebuilding team will likely claim him on waivers. However, if there is an injury to a starting pitcher before opening day, Butler is perhaps the most likely candidate for the rotation other than Mike Montgomery.
To make room on their 40 man roster to sign Jason Hammel last off-season, the Kansas City Royals designated Alec Mills for assignment and then eventually traded him to the Cubs. Mills has only pitched 3 1/3 innings in the majors.
All of those happened in 2016 with the Royals. Last season Mills only pitched in 7 games; all starts in the Cubs minor league system because he spent most of the season dealing with an injury. If he is healthy, Mills could be the first choice to get called up from the minor leagues to be a starting pitcher in the majors. Either way, this will be an important year for Mills.