Latest Craig Counsell decision pushes Chicago Cubs into modern age

With Shota Imanga's arrival, the Chicago Cubs will move to a six-man rotation for parts of the 2024 season.

Chicago Cubs Workout
Chicago Cubs Workout / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The biggest draw that the Chicago Cubs had to new manager Craig Counsell was likely the way that Counsell successfully managed the Milwaukee Brewers' pitching staff.

Counsell has already proven to be an extension of the front office but with Cactus League play underway, the next month of Spring Training and the first few weeks of the regular season will focus on Counsell getting to know his players.

That was a large part of the reason why Counsell was successful with the Brewers as he had a connection with each member of his pitching staff and knew when to pull the right levers. In comments made to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (Subscription Required), Counsell emphasized that most of April will be spent getting to know the starting pitchers of the Cubs' rotation.

Sure, Counsell will have looks at each pitcher during Cactus League games but the true data will begin to be collected during the regular season--when there is an expectation of each pitcher reaching the middle innings.

Most of the Cubs' rotation is in place with Justin Steele, Shota Imanaga, Jameson Taillon, and Kyle Hendricks occupying the first four spots. Fresh off the start in the Cubs' opener on Friday, Jordan Wicks is in play for the fifth starter's spot in addition to veteran Drew Smyly being in consideration.

The Chicago Cubs' starting rotation in 2024 will be unlike what fans have seen in the past.

Counsell also confirmed that while it will not be set, there will be times during the season when the Cubs operate with a six-man rotation. It's a similar approach that the New York Mets used last season when Kodai Senga was making his transition from Japan to Major League Baseball. That will be the blueprint for the Cubs and Imanaga this season and the team is in a great position to capitalize on such a process.

In addition to Wicks and Smyly, the Cubs also have the likes of Javier Assad, Caleb Kilian, and Hayden Wesneski who have made starts at the Major League level. In addition, top prospects Cade Horton and Ben Brown could be ready for the Major Leagues before the second half of the season. The Cubs will certainly be equipped for when they are ready to deploy a six-man rotation.

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