Cubs rotation suddenly in trouble


by - Staff Writer -
Quintana can't stay healthy in 2020 (Jon Durr - USA Today Sports)
Quintana can't stay healthy in 2020 (Jon Durr - USA Today Sports)

Just when you thought the Cubs rotation was about to take off with both Tyler Chatwood and Jose Quintana returning, things have gone south as the rotation is in serious trouble. After making just two starts since his return from a back injury, Chatwood exited his last outing with forearm pain and is now on the IL for a few weeks.

Quintana started the season on the injured list and was eased back into action this summer. His first two outings came out of the pen, and he looked solid as we had him penciled in to replace Chatwood after his injury. That option is no longer on the table as Quintana is now heading to the IL once again with a Lat strain leaving the Cubs rotation with serious question marks.

As we have seen this season, Yu Darvish is the clear ace of this staff, with Kyle Hendricks as the teams No. 2 despite some recent inconsistencies in his outings. Then you have Jon Lester and Alec Mills behind them who have struggled at times in their own right but have managed to hold their own thus far. However, that is only four guys, and with a doubleheader this weekend and multiple series in a row before their next day off, the Cubs rotation is in big trouble and needs help now more than ever.

We know the Cubs will need at least two starters this weekend, with both now going on Saturday. Presumably, you would have Adbert Alzolay get one of those games as he may have to permanently slide into the rotation. On Saturday, the second game could see the Cubs go with more of a bullpen style game, which would leave Colin Rea as an option to start.

Rea has been solid out of the Cubs pen this season, but in his lone start against Milwaukee this year, he struggled to put hitters away and lasted just three innings. That is what I would expect from him once again if he got another turn through the rotation. That gets us through this weekend, but what about the rest of the season.

Rea may be last season's PCL pitcher of the year, but I do like him out of the pen and only use him in doubleheader games. Alzolay appears to be a lock to enter the rotation as he seems to be the only MLB ready starter in the Cubs system right now. We have also seen Tyson Miller make a starter against the Cardinals this season, so keep an eye on his name again.

Those are the prominent names, but what about some of the other starters in the camp you may not have seen? The first name that immediately comes to mind is last year's organizational pitcher of the year in Cory Abbott. A career 16-14 pitcher, Abbott has posted a 2.84 ERA in his minor league career, including a 3.01 ERA with an 8-8-mark last season. Abbott also became the first Cubs pitcher to strikeout 150 batters in a minor league season since 2009. He was ticketed for AAA this season, and I would love to see how things would go.

Jack Patterson is another name you may not know but should be familiar with real soon. The lefty has been in the organization for just two seasons but has been impressive none the less. Patterson went 10-2 with a 2.04 ERA across 35 games and 15 starts, including an 8-1-mark last season with a 1.69 ERA. Like a Ted Lilly in terms of how he pitches, the Cubs need another lefty in the rotation, so giving him a look may not be bad.

Keegan Thompson may be the one pitcher picking up the most steam in the Cubs organization as he continues to get better. After pitching in just three games in 2019 before getting injured, Thompson has had plenty of time to heal and is ready to go. For his career, Thompson has gone 10-10 and posts a 3.46 ERA. The thing that stands out for Thompson would be his command walking just 39 hitters opposed to 151 strikeouts. He is not ready to contribute long term yet, but getting him out there for one start may not hurt.

Juan Gamez is someone I am surprised we have not seen yet. As much as I loved to see Miller make that one start, Gamez was the one I thought would get the start outside of Alzolay. At 5-11 247 pounds, Gamez is a big man who generates one of the best sinkers in the minors. Across 78 games, Gamez has gone 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA but has shown growth over the past year. While his sinker stands out the most, his heater is generating buzz, topping out at 97 in recent outings.

Michael Rucker, Jharel Cotton, Justin Steele, and Duane Underwood are other options to use, but those would be short term or one start options instead of the rest of the season.

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