Chicago Cubs: Fifth starter options abound heading into offseason

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Chicago Cubs: Spot starters abound in the Minors

Adbert AlzolayJen-Ho TsengDuane Underwood Jr. and Alec Mills are all in the Cubs minor league system. They are all also on the 40-man roster already. Are any of them ready to be the fifth starter in the Cubs major league rotation? Sadly, the answer appears to be ‘no’.

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Alzolay came into 2018 season as the most promising starting pitching prospect in the Cubs system. Unfortunately he missed a large portion of this season with an injury. He probably needs more seasoning.

Tseng has twice been the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He has made two starts in the Majors – one coming in late 2017 and another early this season. Both were disasters. Tseng’s 2018 minor league season didn’t go much better.

He pitched to a 6.27 ERA with Triple-A Iowa this year, making 26 starts. The right-hander might be reaching the point where it  is difficult to justify keeping him on the 40-man roster.

Duane Underwood Jr. made one emergency start for the Cubs in 2018 and it was a modest success. But that start also showed that Underwood probably isn’t ready yet. Underwood didn’t even get called up in September when rosters expanded.

Alec Mills showed that he is decent starting pitching depth. If the Cubs can continue to stash him in the minors, I expect that will be his role. He might be 2019’s Luke Farrell.