Cubs: Caleb Kilian, Matt Swarmer offer potential glimpse of the future

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

Regardless of the outcome, Saturday was a day full of Cubs baseball. Sure, the weather paled in comparison to what we got on Friday afternoon, but a pair of right-handers offered us a not-so-far-off glimpse of sunshine and what the future might hold as far as young arms on the North Side.

In the matinee matchup, Matt Swarmer made the second big league start of his career and confounded the Cardinals all afternoon long. Plenty of folks had the nightcap circled on their calendars due to Caleb Kilian making his major league debut, but Swarmer did everything he could to grab fans’ attention.

When he was done for the day, the 28-year-old walked off having tossed six innings of one-run ball, with that lone tally coming via a Tommy Edman home run in his final inning of work. His slider baffled the St. Louis hitters all afternoon, evidenced by the five strikeouts and just two hits allowed.

It’s safe to say Swarmer hasn’t been a guy most have made themselves familiar with – and who could blame them? A former 19th-round pick out of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania way back in 2016, he’s never been listed on any sort of prospect rankings or really considered a long-term asset.

But with a rotation decimated by injury, he’s made the most of his opportunities, making two starts and allowing just a pair of earned runs across 12 innings of work. While it’ll be all eyes on Chicago’s blue-chip talent like Kilian, the front office hitting on guys like Swarmer or Christopher Morel could expedite this rebuild in big ways.

A Cubs future where homegrown arms are, at long last, a factor

Speaking of Kilian, it marked the team’s biggest homegrown starting pitcher debut in years. We all know the narrative that surrounded the Theo Epstein regime over the last decade-plus; and we saw the lack of internally developed arms cripple any chance at building a dynasty in Wrigleyville. But that’s certainly changed – and Kilian is just one piece of that puzzle.

Acquired in last summer’s Kris Bryant trade, Kilian has dominated Triple-A this season, to the extent many were wondering what exactly he had left to prove. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t back in Iowa soon with Wade Miley, Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay and Drew Smyly all working back from injuries, but it’s a safe bet he’s going to get a chance to earn a spot in the 2023 rotation.

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Next. Data suggests a Christopher Morel decline is inevitable. dark

Although he wasn’t perfect (well, he was there for the first few frames), the lanky right-hander showcased an arsenal that made it easy to understand the hype. Unlike Swarmer, who picked up his first big league victory, Kilian had to settle for a no-decision. But it was still a solid effort – and one that capped a day at Wrigley that was full of fleeting glimpses of a future filled with competitive Cubs baseball once again becoming the norm.