Watch Chicago Cubs pitcher Hayden Wesneski make his case for starting spot
It was another dominant spring outing for Chicago Cubs pitcher Hayden Wesneski on Thursday. Recording a line of 5.0 innings, two walks, four hits, one run, 0 earned runs, and five punchouts, the standout of Spring Training and future phenom of the Cubs pitching staff continues to prove that he is the guy that not only should be slotted into the 5th starter spot but perhaps should be even higher than that.
Wesneski now owns a 2.12 ERA in 17 IP with 22 punchouts during Spring Training. That mark is on pace with the 2.18 ERA in 33 IPs we saw from him to close out the 2022 campaign. Though Spring Training is a time to get into your groove, and it shouldn't be considered a bad omen for the season if a pitcher gets hit around early on, it is noteworthy that in a small sample, Wesneski has better numbers than Jameson Taillon, Justin Steele, and Drew Smyly this spring. Officially entering his rookie season in 2023, his early success at the major league level can't be attributed to luck but rather the raw skill he displays as he gains control of his arsenal.
Wesneski’s potential on the mound directly results from the wicked movement he can harness on all of his pitches. Watching his outing today, it’s evident that the only way to beat him is if he makes a huge mistake. To barrel him up by sitting on a particular pitch is proving incredibly hard for hitters to do, as even if you know a type of pitch is coming down the pipe, the movement varies so much that it still throws off your timing and balance.
The Chicago Cubs couldn't be happier to have a pitcher with the nasty stuff Wesneski possesses. Although not drafted by Chicago, It's been a while since the Cubs could look internally to solidify their starting rotation. It's no secret how much emphasis the front office is putting on developing home-grown talent, especially regarding pitching. Wesneski represents the first of many pitchers in a quickly turned-around Cubs farm system that should help the team find a lot of success moving forward.