With Hector Neris addition, the Cubs are likely done adding to the bullpen

Between young arms on the rise and returners, Craig Counsell has options at his disposal as he builds out a Cubs pitching staff this spring.

Championship Series - Houston Astros v Texas Rangers - Game Three
Championship Series - Houston Astros v Texas Rangers - Game Three / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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With this weekend's signing of Hector Neris, Cubs pitching staff feels like it's probably complete heading into 2024. It will now be about how manager Craig Counsell will put his bullpen pieces together. Of course, the starting pitchers projected to be in the rotation are nearly all a lock to be there, except possibly Jordan Wicks if, for some reason, he performs horribly this spring. 

The bullpen, of course, will be a different story. While quite a few pitchers more than likely have a spot locked up, there are several arms that will be fighting for a spot on the 26-man roster during Cactus League play. Let's take a look at how the pitching staff looks with just a few weeks until pitchers and catchers report.

Starters:

Justin Steele
Shota Imanaga
Jameson Taillon
Kyle Hendricks
Jordan Wicks

Bullpen:

Javier Assad
Drew Smyly
Luke Little
Mark Leiter Jr.
Julian Merryweather
Hector Neris
Adbert Alzolay

On the cusp:

Carl Edwards Jr.
Jose Cuas
Hayden Wesneski
Daniel Palencia
Michael Rucker
Yency Almonte

Cubs have options when it comes to the bullpen, staff as a whole

Edwards Jr. is a non-roster invite, while Cuas, Wesneski, Palencia and Rucker all have options. Luke Little and Javier Assad also both have options left, but feel like two guys who would really have to have a bad spring to lose their spot on the staff. The Cubs also have a few guys that can spot-start if necessary. Assad was very dependable as a starter last season, and Drew Smyly or Hayden Wesneski can slide in for a start if somebody needs to skip their turn in the rotation or Counsell just wants to keep guys fresh.

The team has a good mix of lefties and righties, something that could not be said in 2023. I’d love to see Wesneski make the big-league roster and stick around this season. He has nasty stuff when he’s on, including a +8 Run-Value on his sweeper, which generated a 41.1 K%. With a six-pitch mix, he has a lot of potential for the team, but he’ll need to establish consistency against lefties if he wants to be a key contributor.

Given how well Counsell pieced together his pitching staff during his time in Milwaukee, seeing how he builds his bullpen for the Cubs will be a big story to watch next month when spring training gets underway.

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