Although the intentional holding back of Chicago Cubs starting pitchers this spring got a fair bit of attention, what appears to have been a strategic decision to do the same thing with key relievers has not really been discussed.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t noticed that virtually all of the Cubs’ guaranteed Opening Day relievers hadn’t yet made their Spring Training debuts, it’s just that I hadn’t really put it together in a cohesive way. That is to say, these specific guys have been held back.
Today, the Cubs revealed the planned debuts for six key members of the expected bullpen (ESPN): Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, and Carl Edwards Jr. will pitch on Saturday, and Wade Davis, Justin Grimm, and Koji Uehara will pitch on Sunday.
If all six are healthy when Opening Day rolls around, they will comprise 3/4 of the likely eight-man pen. One of the open spots will go to Mike Montgomery or Brett Anderson (again, assuming health), and the other spot is really a wild card, as it could be another lefty like Brian Duensing or Caleb Smith or Jack Leathersich, or it could be a young power righty like Felix Pena, Jose Rosario, or Pierce Johnson.
(And, really, I could go on with possibilities. This all assumes perfect health by every pitcher in camp, which is not plausible, so I kind of hate projecting the final group at this early stage – one injury changes everything.)