3 pitchers who could be starting instead of Drew Smyly right now

Chicago Cubs v New York Mets
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Chicago Cubs manager David Ross is facing criticism for the way his team is handling the starting rotation. Specifically, the decision to move Drew Smyly back into a starting role after he began to string together minor victories out of the bullpen. The 34-year-old has failed to turn in a quality start since June 8th and he has a 12.95 ERA in his last three starts. By every metric of the game, Smyly has been really bad and he should stay in the bullpen right now especially considering the team does not have a lefty reliever right now.

But Ross moved him back to the rotation and frustratingly gave him a relatively long leash. Ross clearly went into Tuesday's game against the Tigers expecting to use Hayden Wesneski in long relief but did not get him moving in the bullpen until Smyly had already let the game get out of hand. Even after his disastrous outing (7 earned runs in 3.2 innings), Ross didn't seem eager to get him back in the bullpen. In fact, Smyly is the probable starter for Sunday's contest against the Pirates.

Well, there are plenty of guys who could start instead of Smyly so I don't really know what the heck Ross is talking about but here are a few that come to mind.

1. Jordan Wicks

Although Ben Brown would probably be next in line if he weren't on the 7-day injured list right now, lefty Jordan Wicks is the next best thing. The 23-year-old is currently ranked as the Cubs' no. 10 prospect according to the MLB, and he looks ready to get a shot at the majors. In 20 starts for the Iowa Cubs and Tennessee Smokies this year, Wicks has a 3.55 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 91.1 innings. He's not exactly lighting up the page with those stats, but it's a whole lot better than what Smyly has been doing.

The only hiccup is that Wicks is not on the 40-man roster, so somebody will have to be designated for assignment. Anthony Kay is the most likely candidate for that fate as the Cubs don't even trust him in mop-up duty anymore and they sent him to Iowa in early August.

Wicks is needed right now and it can't hurt to throw him out there more than another Drew Smyly start. There are concerns that he hasn't had this type of experience before, but heck we're in a playoff race here. See if the guy sinks or swims for crying out loud. If he sinks, reevaluate and if not, you have your fifth starter down the stretch.