I recently quipped something on Twitter about the PECOTA projections for the Cubs’ starting pitchers that is appropriate here:
Just perusing the PECOTA-projected ERAs for the Cubs' starting pitchers.
Welp, looks like it's time to swap Jon Lester out of the rotation in favor of Jen-Ho Tseng … pic.twitter.com/lNxTZKYy2d
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 19, 2019
And just like that, Tseng was named the Cubs’ opening day starter! … for Spring Training.
Jen-Ho Tseng will start Saturday's exhibition opener vs. Milwaukee at Sloan Park. More pitching probables to come later.
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) February 20, 2019
As you, of course, well know, the starting pitcher in a Spring Training game is not always indicative of much of anything. Tseng, for example, is not a serious threat to make the Cubs’ rotation out of the spring.
That said, this is a reminder that Tseng is still being viewed as a starting pitching prospect for the Cubs, and he will have to battle to nab some of the depth starts that inevitably become available this year (others in the mix will include Mike Montgomery, Tyler Chatwood, Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay, Duane Underwood, and Duncan Robinson, among others).
Tseng, 24, was an IFA bonus baby many years ago, and has interspersed his minor league career with excellent seasons and disappointing ones. He absolutely has a big league caliber changeup, but deploying it successfully requires excellent command of his otherwise mediocre fastball, and further development of his curveball. This year might be his last chance to insert himself into the Cubs’ future starting rotation plans, even as a depth option, because there are a ton of arms coming up behind him.
Otherwise, it might be time to see if the fastball velocity can play up in relief, and he can become a fastball/changeup reliever.