Chicago Cubs News: Low impact to Taillon’s slow start with pitching depth

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

The vibes are strong in Wrigley to start the season and Chicago Cubs fans have reasons to be excited. Jed Hoyer and his front office put together a quiet, yet effective, off-season as the roster sits at a total payroll of a little over $182 million, about $23 million over the league average. A large chunk of that comes from the 4-year, $68-million deal given to starter Jameson Taillon. While this was a huge addition to the rotation, this team has the pitching depth to be unfazed by his slow start to the season.

Taillon is coming off a strong 2022 with the Yankees where he went 14-5 with a 3.91 ERA through 177 innings. Pairing that with his career ERA of 3.87 through 7 seasons and you can see why he earned the contract he did.

The 31-year-old right-hander comes into the season not needing to be ‘the guy’. Whether or not it looks like it on paper, the Cubs have a ton of pitching depth. With Marcus Stroman headlining the rotation and rising star Justin Steele looking like the #2, Taillon can come in and essentially be the number three starter, which makes this team dangerous. 

Taillon hasn’t gotten off to the start he wanted to this season. Through two starts, he’s given up 7 ER (tied for most on the team), 13 hits (most), and has an ERA of 7.00. While the sample size is so small, the impact is as well. 

We mentioned Stroman and Steele at the front end of the rotation, but the back end holds just as strong. Drew Smyly is coming off a 2022 with a 3.47 ERA through 106 innings while Hayden Wesneski is arguably the most highly anticipated name in the rotation.  He dazzled with a 2.18 ERA and 9.0 K/9 through a short 33 innings post-trade in 2022. 

Just with the current rotation, Taillon can blend in comfortably. Not to mention Kyle Hendricks still working his way back from injury and Adbert Alzolay is in the bullpen as he gets himself back to 100%. Along with these arms, Keegan Thompson showcased his ability to start. Sure, he’s proven to be more effective out of the pen but can be considered an option for depth purposes.

With 6-7 options when fully healthy, the Cubs have the cushion to thrive this season. When we also look at the fact that this group has a team ERA of 3.94 (7th in MLB) to start the season, the pressure on Taillon is alleviated.

Next. Chicago Cubs fans are feeling the vibes as the team extends All-Star Ian Happ. dark

It’s going to be awesome to see the different ways our coaching staff uses this rotation, as there are a ton of opportunities to get creative. While expectations for the team, in general, are so-so, they have the potential to fly under the radar and compete for not only a playoff spot, but the division as well.