We discussed this weekend the Cubs’ announcement that Travis Wood (followed by Kyle Hendricks) would be starting their Cactus League opener on Thursday, which held to the team’s previous indication that all four of its super utility pitchers – Wood, Trevor Cahill, Adam Warren, and Clayton Richard – would be stretched out as starters this spring for a variety of helpful reasons.
And sure enough, two more of those names pop up in the starters coming after Wood: Pierce Johnson for the home opener on Friday against the Angels, the Cahill against the Reds on Saturday, and Warren against the Diamondbacks on Sunday (Muskat, Gonzales).
It’s no surprise to see none of the Cubs’ expected starting pitchers getting starts in the first handful of Spring Training games, as Joe Maddon has said more than once that the team will be conservative with its starters at the outset of the Cactus League, saving some of their innings for the regular season.
With the Cubs expected to play a long time this year again, it’s all the more important that the key starting pitchers on the team are preserved as best as possible for the stretch run. One small step in that direction is limiting their time in the Spring.
And, of course, if one of the five expected starting pitchers is not able to begin the season healthy, then having some other former starting pitchers stretched out is not only a good idea, it’s necessary.
Also: pretty cool that Pierce Johnson will get the start in the home opener. Let’s not forget that nobody really questions his ability to be a starter in the big leagues, in terms of the stuff. The guy is really, really good. The only issues have been his health and his command. Good to see him ready to roll, because a healthy and effective Johnson could factor into the Cubs’ 2016 season before it’s all said and done.