The Injury Risk to Pitchers This Year, Considering Cubs 40-Man Pitchers, and Other Cubs Bullets

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The Injury Risk to Pitchers This Year, Considering Cubs 40-Man Pitchers, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I still find myself thinking about it: that ‘Dr. Strange’ trailer was awesome. But much like with ‘Spider-Man,’ I now wonder if they’re going to be able to keep the surprises – assuming there are some – wholly under wraps until the release, and I wonder if I’m gonna be able to get myself to the theater before being spoiled.

•   Reds Farm Director Shawn Pender raises the idea that there are reasons to be MORE concerned about pitcher health this year than last year, coming out of the pandemic season (Cincinnati Enquirer):

“I’ll be honest with you. I have greater concern probably this year about our pitching health than I did last year …. On the amateur side, at least, you go watch a big-time prospect the first start, he’s really bringing it. Then the next couple of starts, there is a little letdown. I worry a little bit about the year after a build-up year and two years after really not pitching. We’re trying to bring these guys along more slowly, and really work to build them up. That’s one of the reasons we’re trying to have a lot of our starters who are at upper levels here, so we give them more of an opportunity to build up properly under our watch as opposed to sending them directions about things we want them to do.”

•   It’s a good point, and not one I’ve given enough consideration, given how much oxygen the lockout takes up. We saw so many pitching injuries for the Cubs last year, coming out of the lost pandemic year at the minor league level, but that doesn’t mean this year is going to be free from the same concerns. In fact, think of it like Pender suggests: you’ve got a lot of guys who did a year of side work and building up in 2020, and then they had their first year back being heavily managed by the organization. Now, it’s like, OK, we’re back to normal, go have a normal season. Any chance that presents additional risk? Certainly it would compared to a truly normal year that wasn’t preceded by two messed up seasons.

•   That said, I actually have really strong confidence that the Cubs’ infrastructure is in a really good place to take care of pitchers at the minor league level, and manage them just as carefully – if not more so – than last year. Their development has improved dramatically, but they also saw the injury impacts last year. I think there was probably a lot of learning from that process, on how to better marry the development process with the injury-prevention/rehab process.

•   THAT SAID, there is one major area of concern in relation to all of this: pitching prospects and younger pitchers on the 40-man roster. The guys that the Cubs cannot coordinate with right now on rehab or build up or even plans for the early part of the season. While I have no doubt the Cubs worked out best-laid plans back in November to try to cover the offseason and the lead-up to Spring Training, not being able to ACTIVELY work with the pitchers through that time can’t be a good thing. I’m increasingly concerned about a huge list of pitchers that I just wish the Cubs could’ve been working with over the past month+, to say nothing of whatever comes from here – the Cubs’ 40-man roster pitchers are almost entirely guys who have little to no big league experience: Abbott, Alzolay, Effross, Espinoza, Heuer, Marquez, Nance, Roberts, Rodriguez, Rucker, Steele, Thompson, Vizcaino, Wick, Wieck. Those guys are all going to deserve extra credit if they have a good and healthy 2022 season.

•   Check out the absolutely ridiculous Ump Show here:

•   What in the how:

•   Sometimes the early part of Spring Training is very fun:

•   I love how she’s celebrating the great catch *while she’s still sliding* from the great catch:

•   Random baseball memory:

•   Speaking of older gents doing impressive things:

•   I shan’t apologize for being a mock draft fan:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.