Cubs: Caleb Kilian’s command has evaporated at the big league level

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

When the team, as a whole, is as bad as this year’s Cubs team, you have to try and find the bright spots here and there. When Caleb Kilian made his big league debut in early June against the Cardinals, that certainly marked a high point as a fan this season. However, since that start, he’s turned in back-to-back clunkers in which Chicago was outscored by a 31-6 margin.

"“It’s super frustrating, actually, because I feel like I’m digging myself in a hole,” Kilian told “Like I said, I’m walking people, getting behind in counts. I feel like it’s not far off. I feel like it’s close. Once it clicks, it’ll be a lot better.”"

Digging himself a hole, indeed. In 11 1/3 big league frames, the right-hander has allowed 12 walks, including 10 in just his last 6 1/3. Obviously, that’s not going to play long-term. That being said, labeling Kilian a ‘bust’ or calling for his immediate demotion back down to Triple-A Iowa are both short-sighted gut reactions, and ones that won’t help him or the team long-term.

Cubs will let Caleb Kilian attempt to figure things out at big league level

The starting rotation has been decimated by injuries this year. Three guys the Cubs were planning on leaning heavily on, Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly and Wade Miley, are all on the injured list, along with Adbert Alzolay, who is yet to pitch this season as he works his way back from a lat issue. That’s left manager David Ross with little to no real pitching depth, meaning Kilian is going to get the opportunity to iron things out at the big league level.

In 43 innings at Iowa this year, Kilian totaled 16 free passes. That works out to 3.3 BB/9, a more than palatable number for a kid who also pushed nearly 10 punchouts per nine and worked to a 2.51 ERA. Obviously, there’s been a major disconnect from what he did at Triple-A and what we’ve seen in three starts with Chicago.

On Monday, it wasn’t just that Kilian was missing his spots; he was throwing pitches that were entirely non-competitive. The Pirates figured it out, remained patient and did damage, scoring three in the second and four in the third, chasing the former eighth-rounder from the game before he could even get out of the third.

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Cubbies Crib /

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Obviously, Kilian hasn’t provided the badly-needed shot in the arm the Cubs had hoped for when they brought him back from Iowa. That being said, three starts is certainly nowhere near enough runway to evaluate a guy with his skillset (or any guy, really) – so patience is going to be the name of the game in the weeks to come.