After there was an initial fear that Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman would miss the rest of the season after suffering a fractured rib in August, there appears to be momentum building toward his return.
Stroman has pitched successful bullpen sessions over the course of the past two weeks and there has been speculation that the team may activate the starting pitcher ahead of their series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
If Stroman is activated, it may not be to pitch out of the starting rotation. There has been a belief that Stroman will pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season as the theory is that he does not have enough time to ramp up as a starting pitcher.
As Stroman continues to work his way back from injury, he has moved to a five-day throwing schedule. Cubs' pitching coach Tommy Hottovy joined the "Mully and Haugh Show" on Wednesday morning and alluded to the idea that the team is still mapping out a plan for Stroman's return.
Stroman's return needs to be as part of the Cubs' starting rotation.
There has been a sentiment that the Cubs have won without Stroman and there is no need to have him back in the starting rotation given the success that Javier Assad and Jordan Wicks. That would be flawed logic considering that a large part of the reason why the Cubs are in a position to make the post-season is because Stroman carried the team on his shoulders during the first half of the season.
While not to take away what Assad has done in Stroman's place over the course of the past month, there have been signs of Major League teams making adjustments. Assad has allowed 7 runs on 12 hits over the course of his last two starts.
In regard to Wicks, if the decision for a potential Game 3 starter comes down to a veteran pitcher in Stroman or an unproven rookie with less than 10 starts at the Major League level, Stroman would be the choice every time.