Cubs need to turn things over to the kids on the mound
Nearly a month ago, Matt Swarmer made his big league debut with the Chicago Cubs with a solid outing against the Milwaukee Brewers, tossing six innings of one-run ball, striking out six.
The right-hander followed it up with another strong outing in his second start against the Cardinals, once again throwing six innings and allowing one earned. But since June 4, the wheels have totally come off in a trio of absolutely brutal starts.
In those starts, the 28-year-old drafted by the Cubs in the 19th round of the 2016 Draft, has been hit hard, surrendering 14 earned runs on 16 hits (9.95 ERA) while allowing eight home runs in just 12 2/3 innings of work.
After that disastrous run, he came in out of the bullpen against St. Louis last weekend, throwing 2 1/3 innings, striking out four and not giving up any runs. The Cubs are not competing for a playoff spot, so moving him to the bullpen for a while to see how it goes is a good idea, however I would like to see one of the other pitchers on the Cubs 40-man roster be called up now, instead of waiting for September call-ups.
Caleb Killian was sent back to the minors to work on some stuff and the Cubs should do the same with Swarmer and call up some of the other young pitching prospects such as Anderson Espinoza, Alexander Vizcaino or, once he is off the injured list, Brailyn Marquez. All three of these pitchers are on the 40-man roster and deserve a sustained look at the big league level.
Espinoza was acquired from the Padres at last year’s trade deadline in exchange for Jake Marisnick. He appeared in one game for the Cubs this season, and then was sent back down to the Iowa Cubs. In Espinoza’s MLB debut, he came in relief against the Brewers, throwing four innings and allowing two runs in a lengthy appearance out of the pen.
Not happy with Espinoza in lieu of Swarmer? How about Vizcaino? A 25-year-old starter, Vizcaino was acquired in the trade that sent Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees last July. Even though the right-hander is currently pitching at the Double-A level, letting him work this summer out of the pen in Chicago could be a worthwhile experiment. He’s got swing-and-miss stuff; there’s not a doubt about it. The only question with him is whether or not he can ever learn to control it.
The third pitcher I mentioned, Marquez, made his debut with the Cubs in 2020, but has been dealing with injuries since. The 23-year-old is currently on the 7-day IL with the Tennessee Smokies (AA), but has been called up to the majors before, so you can’t ever say ‘never’. That being said, at this point, the Cubs might be pumping the brakes and focused on just seeing him stay healthy.
Cubs have nothing to lose by riding or dying with their young arms
You could wait and give one (or more) of these guys a look late in the season, but I personally would love to see them with the Cubs sooner rather than later, allowing Swarmer to head back to Iowa and iron out the kinks. After all, Killian struggled after three starts and was sent back to the minors, so why not do the same with Swarmer?
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And, in a year that’s supposed to be about the future, why wait until September to see what Marquez, Espinoza and Vizcaino can do? The Cubs are not going anywhere this season, so they might as well call-up some of their top pitching prospects to see what they are capable of.