Chicago Cubs rookie Hayden Wesneski facing early test in start on Tuesday
After being viewed as the Spring Training standout for the Chicago Cubs, rookie starting pitcher Hayden Wesneski will make his first start of the season on Tuesday as the Cubs play their second game of the series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Among the impressions that Cubs manager David Ross had of Wesneski's Spring was how the right-hander already has a veteran mentality.
"“What stands out to me is he does know a lot about how he wants to go about his business whether it’s in the weight room, his bullpens or competing,” David Ross said early in camp. “It’s just very much a veteran type of presence to how he goes about his business and what he wants to do."- David Ross via Marquee Sports
The Cubs will need Wesneski to have that veteran approach on Tuesday. Entering play today, the Cubs have lost three consecutive games and the past two games have seen struggles from starting pitchers Jameson Taillon and Drew Smyly. The Cubs are in a need of a stopper as they look to regain the momentum they had after their Opening Day victory against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday. There has been speculation that Wesneski could ascend toward the top of the Cubs' starting rotation by the end of the season and Tuesday will be his first test.
During his brief stint at the Major League level at the end of 2022 season, Wesneski dominated the Reds in two appearances. In 11 total innings pitched against the Reds last season, Wesneski only allowed 1 earned run on 6 hits while striking out 14 batters.
This is an area where the Cubs have fallen short in over the course of recent seasons. The Cubs have lacked a true top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher that is capable of making a start that stop's the team's recent struggles. Ideally, this is not a challenge that the Cubs should want for their rookie pitcher in the first start of the season but Wesneski has passed each challenge he has faced since being acquired by the team at the trade deadline last season. Tuesday's challenge could be the first hurdle he clears as he climbs his way to the top of the rotation.