Chicago Cubs: It’s about time they trusted homegrown arms
By Erik Mauro
There’s no questioning the Chicago Cubs have had some trying times early this season, but one thing that’s been fun to watch has been the organization finally trusting their own on the mound.
Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele have made their Major League debuts, Dillon Maples has hung around after making the Opening Day roster, along with Adbert Alzolay. Alzolay has made four starts and carries a 4.71 ERA.
Thompson made his debut against the Cincinnati Reds last weekend and then made a start in the second game of a doubleheader against the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night and he held his own, pitching 3 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball.
As for Steele, he has made six appearances with a 3.68 ERA and struck out 12 hitters in 7 1/3rd innings. Maples, while still wild, has seen the most success he’s ever had in the Major Leagues.
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The Cubs are finally giving their own a chance. These are players who came up through the system and were just waiting for their opportunity, and they are flourishing so far. Fans have wanted to see these guys get a chance for so long, and in a “transition year” as coined by president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, they need to find some guys to step up and be reliable for the future.
Counting on these guys, or at least giving them chances to be counted on sure beats throwing out the veterans all the time. After all, who knows their own players better than the Cubs do?
There are still more players to pitch this season yet, as pitcher Cory Abbott is anticipating his debut at some point in 2021. Tyson Miller pitched last season in the shortened 2020 campaign, and he may see Wrigley at some point this summer as well.
There’s some satisfaction seeing the team’s homegrown players having success, especially for a guy like Steele, who was in the minors for six seasons and suffered through Tommy John surgery to get where he is today. He showed major guts Tuesday night by navigating through a tough Dodger order in extra innings to set the Cubs up for the walk-off.
It’s not all rainbows and butterflies on the North side though, as one of their homegrown players – Duane Underwood, Jr. was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates and is having great success. Underwood has a 3.60 ERA in 11 appearances with 20 strikeouts in 15 innings. The right-hander is a guy the Cubs gave sparse chances to, and he was a mixed bag at the big league level like most young pitchers are.
Underwood having success elsewhere is what the fans hate to see, and hopefully the Cubs have learned their lesson and will keep giving their players some chances. The doubleheader vs the Dodgers was fun to watch because homegrown arms carried the pitching staff.