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Cubs Corner: 2021 Cubs Pitching Rotation, Arriving in Mesa, and More

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Spring, spring, spring! Today’s Cubs Corner takes a look at one monumental task for David Ross, and some pictures from Sloan Park (Mesa, Arizona). The days are counting down, my friends, and it’s only a matter of time until we catch our first glimpses of baseball again.

Cubs Corner: Rotation Options

With Spring Training underway, it’s time for Cubs Corner to look at some of the options that David Ross has for a starting rotation. Tom Ricketts and Jed Hoyer stripped the rotation to bare bones, leaving only Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills from last year’s front five. In fairness, Adbert Alzolay did contribute, but he didn’t become much of a factor until Tyler Chatwood was injured.

There’s little doubt that Kyle Hendricks will take the ball on Opening Day, but in what order do the Cubs’ new hires take the ball after the Professor?

Cub fans would love to see Jake Arrieta as the number-two man, but is that a reality? Probably not. Arrieta’s numbers (4-4, 5.08 ERA, 1.511 WHIP in nine starts) compare to those of Jon Lester‘s (3-3, 5.16 ERA, 1.328 in 12 starts) for the 2020 season, and even with his years of experience, Lester became the number-four man in 2020. Nope, scratch Jake the Snake from both your dreams of a rebound and the number-two man, and slate him as fourth.

Now, once the Yu Darvish trade went down, the Cubs did acquire former Brewer/Padre Zach Davies. Davies had a solid season in 2020, garnering a 7-4 record (12 starts) with an ERA of 2.73 and a respectable 1.067 WHIP. Yep – slate him in at the number-two slot.

Moving to the third man, things get a little more complicated. Do the Cubs go with newly acquired Trevor Williams? Do they put their faith in Alzolay? What about Mills? On paper, Alzolay looks the best, but his sample size is small for 2020, having started only four games. Personally, Alzolay hasn’t quite earned my trust yet, though he has settled in better than what I’d expected, pitching to a 1-1 record, 2.95 ERA, and a 1.172 WHIP last season.

Williams was awful, but then again, he was playing for Pittsburgh. In 11 starts for the Bucs, he managed a 2-8 record, 6.18 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.572. Not the ideal number-three man, but… nevermind – not the ideal number-three man. Slate Williams at the back end of the rotation, and that’s only if Alzolay doesn’t show something strong in Spring Training.

By default, that leaves either Mills or Alzolay for the number-three spot, and experience alone says Ross goes with Mills. Mills didn’t have the greatest 2020, starting 11 games (5-5 record) while compiling an ERA of 4.48, though he did have a very respectable 1.155 WHIP.

Oh, wait – lest you think I forgot… there was that little thing on September 13, 2020, where Mills compiled a no-no against the Brewers. Yeah, Mills gets the third slot. Period.

So the Cubs Corner hot take of the day says you can line ’em up this way: Hendricks, Davies, Mills, Arrieta, Williams, with Alzolay working out of the pen and available for spot-starts.

Cubs Corner: Spring Training Highlights

Things are just starting to cook in Mesa, but players are showing up and they are working out. The big excitement came when Rizzo arrived and got suited up.

Rizzo did speak with the media the other day, reaffirming his love for Chicago and his team. When asked about an extension, his plan was to “Just go out and be me, and play well… I know the money aspect and business side will take care of itself.”

Rizz wan’t the only other familiar face to show up…

Cubs Corner: Cub Birthdays

Celebrating today were ex-Cubs:

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Ken Allison is the senior of two MLB Department Heads, as well as a writer and editor for Overtime Heroics. A life-long MLB fan, he's also written for CubsHQ and had the opportunity to try out for the Chicago Cubs in 1986.