The Chicago Cubs are already feeling the lack of starting rotation depth, as are so many other teams. However, the difference between the Cubs and a majority of those teams exists because the Cubs are sending out guys with bare-bones experience and inconsistency in whatever level of expertise exists. Yes, I’m looking at you, Mark Leiter Jr.
Overall, the Cubs sit in the middle of the pack in terms of their collective ERA, inching to that true middle-ground as they look to continue to improve as we enter into the second full week of the new season. The biggest surprise among the starting pitchers is veteran left-hander Drew Smyly. The near 33-year-old has made two starts and currently has a 0.00 ERA over 9 2/3 innings.
Logically, the surprising arms, however, should cool while the likes of a guy like Kyle Hendricks (7.00 ERA) will inevitably rebound. Due to the aging nature and inconsistency, and as has been the case for a handful of years, a warm body seems right now good enough for the Cubs, leading us to right-hander Matt Swarmer.
Chicago Cubs: It is time to give Matt Swarmer his opportunity
Swarmer has been up, down and around since the Cubs took him in the 19th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. At various points throughout the years, Swarmer has flashed the stuff required to be a big-league starter yet hasn’t quite risen to that necessary level to be trusted.
Last season in five starts at Double-A Tennessee, Swarmer posted a career-best 31.9 percent strikeout rate and held opposing batters to a paltry .198 average. He carried a 3.13 ERA and 2.97 FIP in those five starts, respectively. In his first start this season for Iowa, Swarmer allowed just one hit over the fifteen batters he faced over four scoreless frames.
Through three starts now, the right-hander has yet to allow a single run earned or unearned, and has racked up 11 strikeouts to go against six walks. If there is a part of his game that is hindering him, it is the walks which is why it is likely he will not be called upon for a spot start until that facet of his game is remedied.
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The Cubs are in this position where veteran minor league level guys such as Swarmer should be getting more extended looks. It may be a different story if he were older, but at 28, there is some juice in the tank for a guy like him to see some meaningful time at the next level. In the coming weeks, keep an eye on what the Cubs decide to do, as we could see Swarmer get the call for a start or two, and maybe it can be enough for him to stick.