The Chicago Cubs are beginning to look for creative ways to solve their bullpen struggles this season and that has resulted in the return of pitching prospect Hayden Wesneski.
Wesneski made the Cubs' 26-man roster out of Spring Training after winning the fifth starter competition but was wildly inconsistent in the eight starts that he made before being demoted to Triple-A Iowa earlier this month. Wesneski posted a 5.03 ERA to begin the season with the Cubs and it was tied to his inability to miss bats as his strikeout percentage was a career-low 16.7%.
Wesneski made two starts with the I-Cubs and allowed only 1 earned in 9 innings of work. The ability to miss bats returned for Wesneski during his brief return to Triple-A as he averaged a strikeout an inning but there still appeared to be some issues with his command. Wesneski walked a total of 6 batters during the 9 innings of work he had with the I-Cubs.
The Cubs are in desperate need of a solution to their bullpen woes this season and Michael Rucker has been part of the problem. Rucker posted a 5.48 ERA through 20 appearances out of the bullpen for the Cubs this season.
The hope for the Cubs is that Wesneski can find the success that he had last season for the team when he initially made his Major League debut out of the bullpen. Albeit a small sample size, 8.2 innings pitched, Wesneski limited opposing hitters to a slash line of .188/.235/.406 while totaling 11 strikeouts while pitching out of relief.
It will be curious to map out Wesneski's usage moving forward. One idea may be that the Cubs envision Wesneski sliding into the role that Keegan Thompson utilized last season as a multi-inning bullpen ace.