Ben Brown just showed why the Cubs can't relegate him to the ninth inning

The rookie right-hander flirted with history in his latest outing, tossing seven no-hit frames.
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

With Adbert Alzolay sidelined for the foreseeable future and Hector Neris looking like a coin flip every time he has a save situation, it's clear that the Chicago Cubs have questions in the late innings.

For some time now, based purely on his stuff, rookie right-hander Ben Brown has been tossed around in some circles as a prospective fit for the closer's role. After all, what's not to love about a high-velocity fastball paired with an overpowering breaking ball? But in his latest start, Brown showed why he has far more long-term value to this team in the rotation as opposed to a ninth-inning role.

Brown, acquired from the Phillies in 2022 in exchange for veteran reliever David Robertson, twirled seven no-hit innings against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers before being lifted for a reliever in the eighth after throwing a career-high 93 pitches. He struck out 10, also a career-best, and walked only two as the Cubs held on in extras for a badly-needed 6-3 win.

Cubs have to find a way to keep Ben Brown in the starting rotation

It's clear at this point that Craig Counsell needs to find a way to keep Brown in the starting rotation once Jordan Wicks, who made another rehab start for Iowa Tuesday, returns. Whether that be creative juggling or shifting to a six-man rotation, there's no way the Cubs can move Brown out of his role as a starter, despite the fact he's had success as a reliever this year.

“He took that first outing and just wiped it away, and he’s just been so, so good since,” Counsell told after the game Tuesday. “The confidence that he shows. He's adapted to whatever he's had to do, and we're getting a really good pitcher.”

Hayden Wesneski, who came on in relief of Brown to open the eighth, fills that swing man role well and with Drew Smyly back from the IL, Counsell has some options that can handle multiple innings. There's no reason to shift Brown back to the pen given the circumstances and his recent dominance as a starter.

In six starts this season, the lanky right-hander boasts some impressive numbers given its his first taste of big league action: a 1.80 ERA, 0.900 WHIP and 10.2 K/9. He's locked in, giving Counsell and the Cubs a high-quality start every five days. This team could make plenty of changes to shake things up, but Brown's role shouldn't be one of them.