Currently, the Chicago Cubs starting rotation sits 24th in MLB in terms of ERA with a 4.24 mark. Considering the Cubs are 12th in runs per game at 4.45 and the bullpen has been among the best in the NL until quite recently, (currently 15th in the Senior Circuit) it’s safe to say the troubles lay mostly with the starting rotation as they did last year before the big sell-off in July.
Thankfully, though, for the Cubs and their fans alike, the future, finally, is beginning to look bright for the homegrown pitchers within the organization.
Cubs projected 2024 starting rotation
- Marcus Stroman
- Keegan Thompson
- Caleb Kilian
- DJ Herz
- Jordan Wicks
Diving into the obvious, Marcus Stroman and Keegan Thompson have been fantastic at the big league level this year, although the latter finally hit a rough patch against Baltimore Tuesday (3 IP, 7 ER, 1 K). Looking at Stroman, you see more of the same. The guy was absolutely dealing prior to running into the bandsaw against the Cardinals in his last start. Let’s not forget. We’re talking about a guy who is coming off a stellar month of May where we went 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA.
Elsewhere, pivoting down to Triple-A, it will continue to be all eyes on Caleb Kilian, who made his big league debut over the weekend against St. Louis. It’s only a matter of time (likely after Chicago trades from its veteran starting ranks) before he gets a longer look at the big league level. His 2-0 record with a 2.05 ERA in 39 1/3 frames of work at Iowa sure makes it look like he’s ready for that next challenge. At just the age of 25, the right-hander will be an incredibly important piece moving forward. Preseason ranks had him listed as the #5 prospect in the Cubs organization but I will not be surprised to see him crack the top 3 come midseason rankings time.
Dipping further, we take an in depth look at DJ Herz, who absolutely mowed down hitters in his most recent start, striking out 12 in just five innings. In South Bend, Herz owns an immaculate 1.45 ERA over the course of 37 1/3 innings. That number is coupled with 53 strikeouts, good for a 12.8 K/9.
Jordan Wicks currently sits with a 4.50 ERA in South Bend but as the Cubs’ #6 prospect, he is thought to be a key piece moving forward and came into the organization with a ton of polish from his college career . In today’s games, you just have to have solid pitching depth if you want to compete. Take the Houston Astros for example: they currently rank 20th in runs per game but in the top 3 in terms of team ERA with a 2.98. Even with bottom 10 run scoring production, they still boast an AL West-best 35-20 record.
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Meanwhile, Chicago is 10 games under .500, even with a top 10 offense, because their team ERA sits at an underwhelming 4.40, only good for a bottom five mark. For Cubs fans however, the present may be gloomy as the team continues to fight an uphill battle in the standings, but the future is most certainly bright. The sooner the team’s top prospects produce, the sooner the front office will build around them. For now, it is all about timing and spending when the time is right, allowing the team to have an open window of competitiveness for as long as possible.