Chicago Cubs: Why not give Duane Underwood more chances?

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(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Duane Underwood Jr. performed admirably in his major league debut last month, yet the Chicago Cubs haven’t given him a chance since then.

On June 25, the Chicago Cubs called upon 24-year-old Duane Underwood Jr. for a spot start against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Underwood was called into action after Tyler Chatwood’s wife went into labor.

Underwood wasn’t perfect, but considering the fact that his debut came against the red-hot Dodgers (15-5 in June at the time), he fared quite well. The rookie pitched four innings of two hit, one run ball, striking out three batters.

Not too shabby of a debut

There is much to make of Underwood’s debut; he needed 77 pitches to get through four innings and walked three batters. However, two of those walks came in the first inning.

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Walks aside, Underwood’s only mistake was the lead-off home run he surrendered to Kiké Hernandez in the second inning. The Cubs replaced Underwood with pinch hitter Tommy La Stella with two outs in the fifth inning. La Stella grounded out.

The Cubs gave Underwood a chance and left Cubs fans wanting more. He performed well enough to pitch another inning or two against the Dodgers. He certainly pitched well enough to earn another start.

Wrong spot starter?

Instead, the Cubs sent him back to Triple-A Iowa and he has not returned since. Monday presented an opportunity for Underwood to make his Wrigley Field debut in yet another spot start. Luke Farrell was handed the ball for his second start of 2018.

Of course, Farrell’s start left something to be desired. He surrendered six runs in the first two innings, including five in the first inning. In total, he pitched 3 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

One start should not be how one determines a player’s skill and/or value. After all, Farrell has a 3.20 ERA in 25 1/3 innings as a reliever. Still, his numbers in two starts are daunting: six innings, eight hits, nine runs (all earned).

Underwood deserves more chances

Opponents are hitting .320 against Farrell when he starts. As a reliever, that number is a much more sightly .224 mark. Basically, Farrell has fared far better in the bullpen.

So, what’s my point? Essentially, Underwood is worth a look for another start, or even more. Underwood has not pitched since July 16, so he would have been well-rested if called upon Monday night.

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The Cubs are in the midst of a stretch where they will play 12 games in 11 days. With the dog days of August and stretch-run fast approaching, resting the starting pitching as needed will be key. If given the chance, Underwood might just be the help the team needs.

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