Chicago Cubs: These relievers haven’t inspired confidence this spring

Rowan Wick / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Rowan Wick / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Jharel Cotton / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: This right-hander has been hit hard this spring

As you all are well aware, Theo Epstein spent the offseason collecting a bunch of high-upside, low-risk arms in hopes of assembling a passable bullpen in 2020. One of those who falls squarely within that group? Jharel Cotton, a right-hander who made 24 starts a year ago as a member of the Oakland Athletics.

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Now, Cotton never had even the slightest chance of locking down a spot in the Cubs rotation. That being said, the former Top-100 prospect could still fill an important role in the bullpen.

Ahead of the 2017 campaign, Baseball America ranked Cotton as the #84 prospect in the game. Despite that recognition, though, he’s never really put it all together and enjoyed any real sustained success – especially at the big league level.

Epstein clearly sees something in the 28-year-old. Maybe the Cubs’ Pitch Lab can help the right-hander get back on track this season. That hasn’t been the case in the early returns, though. Cotton has a pair of Cactus League wins under his belt, but anyone who knows the game understands that’s pretty much the worst way of evaluating a pitcher.

He’s allowed seven hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings of work as a Cub. He’s striking out north of 11 batters per nine – but also walking more than five men per nine, as well. That’s exactly the type of feast-or-famine arm Ross undoubtedly would like to avoid adding to his pen, especially given the group’s make-up.

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There’s still a couple weeks for guys to finish ramping up and making adjustments. For Wick and Kimbrel, it’s almost a foregone conclusion: these guys have to be leaders this season, anchoring the relief corps. Adding someone like an effective Cotton to the mix could help push this group over the top, though.