The Cubs brain trust is already making a list and checking it twice. Ahead of what’s expected to be a very busy offseason in the offices at Gallagher Way, Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins are having conversations about front-of-the-rotation starters who are available – a promising sign for a fanbase desperately hoping for an ace this offseason.
The search for a big arm, as well as the potential to land a superstar shortstop, will no doubt be the two biggest storylines surrounding the Cubs this winter. But with the emergence of guys like Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson this year, among others, Chicago is poised to carry a decent amount of talent forward heading into 2023.
Cubs looking for flexibility and versatility out of their young arms
Those two obviously headline the up-and-coming group of arms the organization is beginning to showcase, along with the likes of Hayden Wesneski, swing man Adrian Sampson and the return of right-hander Adbert Alzolay, who had missed the entire year due to injury prior to this past week.
Marcus Stroman will return, along with longtime rotation staple Kyle Hendricks, who will look to hit reset on things after his struggles over the last two years. From there, though, the Cubs have plenty of options when it comes to rounding out the starting rotation.
Steele seems like a lock given his performance this year, but you can’t say the same for someone like Thompson, regardless of how good he’s been. Why? He’s been effective as a starter, but downright dominant out of the bullpen (1.16 ERA, 0.871 WHIP).
In theory, that makes Thompson a prime candidate to be a long relief man to open the year. But the same can be said for Alzolay, Wesneski and Sampson. The moral of this story? Expect plenty of fluidity when it comes to roles for the Cubs pitching staff in 2023.
"“We’re building something. We’re trying to win. So for me if my role is best out of the bullpen, being a long guy, being a guy that can throw in the 8th or close a game or whatever, I feel like I have the weapons to do that,” Alzolay told Marquee Network. “I feel like there is a lot more options there and that allows the team to go and be aggressive during the offseason.”"
For years, we’ve talked about the value of position players with versatility – the Ben Zobrists and Christopher Morels of the world. But the same concept and line of thinking can be applied to pitching, as well, which seems to be how the Cubs will go about building not only a top-tier starting rotation next year, but an entire pitching staff that’s capable of taking the ball when called.