Hayden Wesneski gave a mixed performance in his 2023 Chicago Cubs debut

Seattle Mariners v Chicago Cubs
Seattle Mariners v Chicago Cubs / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

The much-hyped 2023 season debut of Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Hayden Wesneski could've gone a little better. The righty faced a tough assignment - with the team on a three-game losing streak, with some INFURIATING losses along the way, he was called on to be the stopper on Tuesday to stem the bleeding. Nerves seemed to get to him though. While he didn't have a disastrous outing, it was far from the pristine performances he gave during Spring Training.

Early on, warning signs were starting to show for the rookie. He gave up a lot of loud contact to the Reds lineup in the first inning with three 90+ mph hits from Jonathan India, Jake Fraley, and Tyler Stephenson resulting in a run. It didn't help that he threw his fair share of uncompetitive pitches and the frustration from the lack of command was showing as he gave up six hits and two walks with only four strikeouts. Lefties were a real bugaboo for him as they went 4 for 8 against him on the night and caused all of the big damage. The greatest blows came from TJ Friedl and Jason Vosler who took him way deep. At only 4 2/3 innings and three runs, Wesneski was done.

Although the command wasn't great, Wesneski could still get a few whiffs on his nasty sweeper. He really dialed up the fastball as the game went on as well, even touching 98(!) mph once during the outing. Two of his strikeouts came via the four-seamer including a particularly nasty pitch to send Will Benson back to the dugout:

Overall, he picked a good game to get the first start of the year jitters out of the way. After Wesneski left the game, the bullpen was able to keep the Reds in check while the offense exploded for 12 runs. It was a good reminder that for as much as he's shown he can stay calm and composed throughout games so far, he's still young and this was an especially exciting moment for him. It's not like this was an abysmal performance either. When his location was on, he got fantastic results. He just needs to rein in the adrenaline and keep the uncompetitive misses to a minimum to improve in his next outing.

Wesneski is still the x-factor in the Cubs' rotation

The Cubs organization and fans have understandably high expectations for Wesneski. While there's no shortage of excellent pitching depth forming in the organization, he's the only one who's had the opportunity to really showcase that talent at such an excellent level in the big leagues so far. Besides his 2.18 ERA in his first 33 innings with the Cubs last year, he also dazzled in Spring Training en route to winning the fifth starter spot. If he blossoms, he has ace-like potential that would help the Cubs get back to relevance.

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This game doesn't really change the perspective on Wesneski and what he can be. What it does do is remind us not to think of him as a surefire star who'll have it all figured out on day one. He'll learn to make adjustments as he establishes himself in the big leagues. The Cubs still made the right decision bringing him up and there was enough promise here to build excitement for his next start.