An early 26-man roster prediction ahead of Cubs spring training

Reviewing the list of NRIs and the 40-man roster to predict who will be on the Chicago Cubs' 26-man roster on Opening Day.

Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages
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With Spring Training games officially less than a week away, I still believe this Cubs roster is unfinished. The pitching may be done with additions, but the bigger question is who will earn the spots on the 26-man roster. The biggest question, however, is who the Cubs will still add to the lineup this offseason. Here's my 26-man roster prediction for the Cubs' Opening Day roster.

Early roster prediction - The starting rotation

  • Justin Steele
  • Shota Imanaga
  • Jameson Taillon
  • Kyle Hendricks
  • Jordan Wicks

The first four, Justin Steele, Shota Imanaga, Jameson Taillon, and Kyle Hendricks, are apparent. As for Jordan Wicks, I'm plugging him into the Opening Day rotation, but he and Javier Assad will switch places throughout the season between the rotation and the bullpen.

Craig Counsell will have the luxury of looking ahead at the next series in the schedule, seeing who's scheduled to pitch, and determining if, for example, there's a team coming up with a primarily right-handed lineup, having Taillon, Hendricks, and Assad face them with Wicks available in the pen is probably the better matchup. And vice versa with left-handed heavy teams.

Where we sometimes scratched our heads at what David Ross was doing matchup-wise last season, all of that will get cleaned up this season by Counsell. We will see guys used in spots that will be the stroke of genius. Counsell was a master at that with a small-market Brewers team; I can only imagine what he will do as the Cubs become more star-studded in the coming years.