Hayden Wesneski needs to be a difference-maker in the Cubs bullpen

When the rotation is back to full-strength, Chicago needs its right-hander to cement himself as a go-to option out of the pen.
San Diego Padres v Chicago Cubs
San Diego Padres v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Overshadowed by Dylan Cease's 12-strikeout effort, Chicago Cubs right-hander Hayden Wesneski quietly turned in another quality outing in Wednesday's loss to the San Diego Padres, allowing three earned runs over six innings of work.

Although he took the loss, the right-hander continued to deliver for manager Craig Counsell and, once the rotation returns to full strength with Jordan Wicks and, hopefully, Kyle Hendricks back in the mix, Wesneski could find himself as the go-to guy in the Chicago bullpen.

“We want to get healthy, of course, and hopefully we’re always trending toward getting healthy,” Counsell told MLB.com. “But he’s pitching well, and that’s going to help us no matter what. We’ll kind of figure that out as we go. Good pitchers are going to help us win games, and Wes is pitching well.”

The Cubs' young arms could be difference-maker for the bullpen

Ben Brown, who also stepped up to make valuable starts for the Cubs in April, has already shifted into a relief role with the return of Justin Steele this week. He hasn't appeared in a game since his last start on May 2, but the right-hander will surely be asked to eat key innings as Chicago gears up for a weekend series in Pittsburgh, followed by a trip to Atlanta.

Wesneski, of course, has a lot of experience pitching in relief. Last season, he excelled as a reliever for the Cubs, with a 3.57 ERA (compared to a 5.51 mark as a starter) - which should give Counsell a high degree of confidence in shifting him back to the pen, where some stability is sorely needed.

With Adbert Alzolay a question mark and Hector Neris walking a fine line between converting saves and raising fans' blood pressure on a nightly basis, reinforcements couldn't come soon enough. With Wesneski feeling confident at the big-league level, he could be setting himself up for the most impactful season of his career.