Today, the Chicago Cubs announced their opening trio of Spring Training starters, and it’s a who’s who of the team’s depth.
Lefty Michael Roth will take the opener on Friday against the Brewers in Maryvale, righty Eddie Butler gets the home opener against the Rangers on Saturday, and Jen-Ho Tseng starts on Sunday in Scottsdale against the Giants (Muskat, Gonzales).
Butler, 26, was a buy-low reclamation arm for the Cubs last year, making 11 starts that featured one overwhelmingly impressive outing in St. Louis, and then a whole lot of command problems and hard contact. Now out of options, Butler will have to make the Cubs’ 25-man roster out of Spring Training, or will be subjected to waivers, where a rebuilding club might take a swing. For now, he’ll be in the Spring rotation as depth. For much more on Butler, Luke gave him a healthy write-up earlier this offseason.
Tseng, 23, is one of the Cubs’ better pitching prospects (and was the minor league pitcher of the year this past season), got a one-start look-see at the end of 2017, and he currently projects to begin the season at AAA. He has legitimate back-of-the-rotation big league upside, but with Mike Montgomery firmly ahead of him as the 6th starter, it’ll take an injury or a one-off fill-in start for Tseng to get big league action this year. Of course, that kind of stuff happens every year, so, yeah, I’d expect to see him in the big leagues again at some point in 2018.
If you don’t remember Roth, he’s the incredibly photogenic 27-year-old lefty the Cubs recently signed on a minor league deal:
BN: Cubs Sign Lefty Michael Roth to Minor League Deal https://t.co/rIz0djaIMR
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 27, 2018
As for the primary starting pitchers, including Montgomery, they figure to begin their starts after a couple turns in the rotation. It’s been a strategy Joe Maddon has employed each of the last two years to limit the “locked in” starters’ exposure and usage, and there’s little reason not to do it again.