Chicago Cubs prospect Caleb Killian ready to put 2022 behind him

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

The Chicago Cubs June 4, 2022, game against the St. Louis Cardinals was meant to mark the beginning of a new era for the team. Top pitching prospect Caleb Killian was set to make his Major League debut for the Cubs and that was supposed to be the beginning of the future for the team as many projected Killian to solidify his spot in the team's starting rotation for the rest of the season.

Killian's start against the Cardinals was a relative success as he struck out 6 batters across 5 innings of work while allowing 3 runs. It was an effective first start for Killian as it gave the impression that he would be able to build from that moving forward at the Major League level. Killian struggled in the two starts following his debut as he allowed 12 runs while walking 10 batters in a combined 6.1 innings pitched.

The command issues would follow Killian in his return to Triple-A Iowa following his three starts at the Major League level last June. Killian did not appear in another Major League game in 2022 and ended the season with a 4.22 ERA and averaging nearly 5 walks per 9 innings pitched in 106.2 innings pitched with the Iowa Cubs.

In speaking with Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic, Killian talked about those struggles and how a knee injury may have been a factor.

"“My mechanics were changing throughout the year,” Kilian said. “I had some knee tendinitis so I think that may have a little to do with it. I started landing more open. But I’ve been working on a few mechanical changes and it seems to be improving quite a bit.”"

Caleb Killian via The Athletic

Prior to the 2022 season, command was never a concern for Killian as his quick ascension through the minor leagues was due to his ability to throw strikes consistently. As he enters the 2023 season, Killian is determined to get back to that level.

"“I had to learn how to handle that,” Kilian said. “Honestly, I hadn’t had a lot of adversity going through the minor leagues. I’ve had pretty good success and then it got pretty tough there. I think I did it to myself. If I just fill up zone, I’ll be all right.”"

Caleb Killian via The Athletic

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Killian's struggles during the 2022 season are not nearly as detrimental to the Cubs now as one would have thought they would be at the beginning of last season. Over the course of the past 12 months, the Cubs pitching infrastructure has proved to be able to churn out quality arms at the Major League level. Justin Steele appears to be progressing toward becoming a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher while Keegan Thompson and Hayden Wesneski blossomed in the opportunities they were given last season. All that to say that pressure is not on Killian to succeed in the way that it may have been when he took the mound against the Cardinals last June.