Cubs have the pieces to roll with a six-man starting rotation

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs pitchers and catchers are set to report this week. Spring Training is almost upon us, and the regular season is not far behind. With this in mind, the Cubs are currently looking to make some final changes to their roster and straighten out their plan for the 2021 season.

Regarding starting pitching, the staff is practically unrecognizable from last year’s group. With Tyler Chatwood, Jon Lester and Jose Quintana all signed with other teams via free agency, and Yu Darvish traded to the San Diego Padres last December, there are a lot of new faces in the mix. This leaves the team’s ace Kyle Hendricks left along with right-hander Alec Mills.

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Throughout the offseason, the team did a great job of bringing in arms to add to the rotation. Not only did the North Siders sign former Pittsburgh Pirate Trevor Williams to a one-year, $2.5 million deal, but they also reunited with former Cub Jake Arrieta. Arrieta, 34, and the Cubs agreed to a one-year contract worth $6 million. Let us not forget that the Cubs received veteran Zach Davies from the Padres as part of the Yu Darvish trade.

From the looks of it, Hendricks, Davies, Arrieta, and Williams will all indeed have spots in the starting rotation. Not only that, with Mills, Adbert Alzolay, Tyson Miller and Brailyn Marquez in the cards, there is still enough depth to fill out the team’s 2021 starting rotation even further. Since the Chicago Cubs have more starters than needed to fill out a five-man rotation, they could implement an untraditional six-man rotation.

Chicago Cubs would benefit from having a six-man rotation in 2021

Having an untraditional six-man rotation would be a good idea for the team. Not only does Chicago have the arms to carry this idea out, but it would also provide a chance for pitchers to ease back into what pitching a regular season feels like.

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 regular season was just 60 games long. As a result, pitchers did not make as many starts as they would in a typical season and their numbers were arguably not representative of their true potential. In 2021, players will need to re-adjust to a regular season. Implementing one extra starter in the rotation would give all starters more rest, and more time to adjust back to a full season.

Besides this, having a six-man rotation would give the Chicago Cubs a chance to see more out their farm, including the likes of Mills and Alzolay. Mills, 29, has started a total of 17 games in his career, 12 of them being in 2020. Of course, the highlight among these 12 starts is the no-hitter that Mills pitched last September. With more major league experience, Mills has the potential to improve and be an asset for the Cubs.

Unlike Mills, Alzolay has not had as much big-league time to show his stuff. The 25-year-old hurler only made a couple of starts in 2020. He has a total of six MLB appearances under his belt, and has posted a career 4.54 ERA.

Additionally, over the course of 2020 when he made four of his six starts, Alzolay posted a 2.95 ERA. Since he has not gotten all that much big league experience, but he did well in 2020, it would be interesting to see him in the rotation in 2021.  If given the opportunity, both Mills and Alzolay could show what they are made of.

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While no decision has been made thus far, hopefully, the Cubs reap the benefits of implementing a six-man rotation in the 2021 season.