Chicago Cubs Rumors: 1 pitcher to release, 1 to trade, and 1 to keep at the deadline

The Chicago Cubs are still projected to be sellers at the trade deadline and there are a few moves they should make to shake up their pitching staff and prepare the team for the future.
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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Although they've started winning of late and they still have time to alter their destiny, most experts around baseball still have the Chicago Cubs pegged as sellers at the trade deadline. That means more goodbyes to fan-favorite players and more re-evaluating of where this team is ahead of the offseason.

Where the Cubs stand to see the most change down the stretch is in their pitching staff. The rotation has not one, not two, but three trade candidates in Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly, and the lone survivor of the 2016 World Series team Kyle Hendricks. Similarly, the bullpen is packed with pieces that teams should be interested in from Mark Leiter Jr. to Michael Fulmer. The staff as a whole could see an overhaul with young talent brought up to see what the Cubs have going forward.

Before that happens though, let's take a look at some of the most likely moves ahead on the pitching side. Here's one arm in the staff worth releasing or, at the very least, reconsidering, one worth trading, and one worth keeping.

The Cubs should re-evaluate Michael Rucker's future

Relief pitcher Michael Rucker has undoubtedly provided value for the Cubs over the past few years. As an up-and-down guy, he's been serviceable depth in emergencies, but wholly unremarkable nonetheless. This year, things have looked a bit uglier. After throwing for a decent enough 3.95 ERA last year, he's struggled mightily with a 5.17 ERA. Statcast is not a fan of his work either. He's in the sixth percentile of pitchers in average exit velocity given up and in the fourth in hard-hit percentage. Both stats are career worsts for him with the hard hit rate particularly egregious at 48.6%, 12.5% higher than the league average.

That's not to say he can't have some value. He's still shown flashes even in a year where he's been hit harder than ever. For depth purposes, there are worse things to have than a consistent up-down guy who can fill in well enough when needed. It's only going to get more challenging for him on this roster as the Cubs look for internal options though. Daniel Palencia has already made the jump to the majors as a reliever and more could soon follow as the team shifts to development and finding out what they have for next year.

I'll admit there's not a pitcher that feels worth releasing yet on the team, but Rucker's definitely on the bubble. His future with the club will depend on whether he can cut down that 10.2% walk rate and more consistently miss the barrel of the bat. He'll likely have a place in the Cubs bullpen in the second half following any trades, but his future beyond that is worth questioning if he can't right the ship.