Chicago Cubs: Is it too early to worry about the 2020 bullpen?

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Underwood’s stuff might be better suited for the bullpen

Duane Underwood Jr. made one successful emergency start for the Cubs last season. He only pitched four innings, but he only gave up one run on two hits and three walks. I gave Underwood a break on the low inning total because his first frame began with 41 pitches.

I was most impressed by who he faced and how he was able to work to them. Underwood depends mostly on his four and two-seam fastballs. He occasionally throws change-ups and curveballs to keep hitters honest.

In the minors Underwood has mostly been working as a starter. But his combination of pitches might work better as a reliever. One start in the bigs doesn’t mean he’s ready. But if 2019 is the year Underwood establishes himself as a pitcher who belongs at the Major League level, he might be in the bullpen on Opening Day 2020.

Tseng may be best suited out of the bullpen

Jen-Ho Tseng is a two-time winner of Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors (2014, 2017). He’s made one start for Chicago in each of the past two years. In his 2017 start, he allowed five runs in three innings. Last year, he allowed three runs in two innings.

This is Tseng’s last option year. If he doesn’t soon show the Cubs that he will have value at the Major League level, he might be designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for another prospect. However, before last year Tseng has pitched so well in the minors (3.85 career ERA in the minors) that he might have just had a bad season last year.