Chicago Cubs’ have a lot of starting pitching depth in the minors
The Cubs do have a few other starting pitchers on the 40 man roster. These pitchers aren’t realistic options to join the rotation out of spring training, but they might be towards the end of the season.
With the Tampa Bay Rays, Drew Smyly worked with the Cubs new pitching coach Jim Hickey and manager Joe Maddon. So it wasn’t a surprise when the Cubs signed Smyly to a two-year contract this off-season. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery, so his contract is mostly about the next year and not this year.
Adbert Alzolay is arguably the best prospect in the Cubs entire minor league organization regardless of position. He is expected to begin the season in the starting rotation at double-A. Hopefully, the Cubs won’t have any reason to rush him to the major leagues this season. However, he may earn the opportunity to make a few late-season starts this year similar to the one Tseng made towards the end of last season.
Oscar De La Cruz was added to the Cubs 40 man roster to protect him from the rule 5 draft. So De La Cruz could be promoted to the majors without the need to add him to the 40 man roster. However, De La Cruz isn’t considered to be as far along in his development as Alzolay.
De La Cruz finished the season with 3.46 ERA in 12 starts for the high-A level Myrtle Beach Pelicans. So it may be a reach to expect De La Cruz to make the leap all the way to the major leagues by the end of the season Then again, Dillon Maples did it last year for the Cubs in a relief role.
Time to produce
Duane Underwood Jr.
This is an important year for Duane Underwood Jr. Injuries have held him back from being as far along in his development as the Cubs would have hoped he would be by now. Underwood has also had difficulty developing pitches other than his fastball.
If he can’t develop some secondary pitches, he will eventually be converted to a reliever. Underwood has also had control problems even with his fastball. If he can’t do a better job of finding the strike zone, he won’t be in baseball much longer.
Next: Cubs' roster still holds some mystery
Last season the Cubs were able to cover multiple injuries to the starting rotation by moving Montgomery from the bullpen to the rotation, calling Butler up from the minors and trading for Jose Quintana. This season the Cubs already have several starting pitchers already in-house if they are needed.