Cubs Rotation Issues (and Opportunities?) After the Miley Injury, Nasty Roberts, and Other Cubs Bullets

‘Moon Knight’ – it was good, right? I just enjoyed that first episode, and felt appropriately sucked into a world where I (1) knew absolutely nothing coming into the show (unlike basically every other MCU show/movie so far), and (2) want to know what’s coming next.

•   Wade Miley has been shut down due to inflammation in his elbow, but David Ross is staying optimistic for now (Marquee): “Not too concerned right now. It wasn’t anything when he was throwing so we were slow playing it a little bit. There was a little bit of discomfort with his arms going over his head in his windup, which started it and then some of the release stuff. Started to get a little bit worse and just not going away so we wanted to be precautionary, get some pictures taken of it and they saw a little bit of inflammation in there. Let that thing calm down and get him back started.”

•   There’s no timeline other than the 10-day shutdown, since we can’t yet know how Miley’s arm will respond. But even if the inflammation is all cleared up by then, he’s likely going to need at least a few weeks to get back up to game-ready shape, so if you’re thinking we’ll see Miley make his Cubs debut before May, you’re being too optimistic.

•   As for the rotation in Miley’s absence, this will, at a minimum, create a TON of runway for Justin Steele to really settle himself into a rotation job, in my view. He’s got the potential, and now you have no excuse not to give him four or five starts – regardless of outcome – to let him continue developing. With Alec Mills, I have my concerns about him being passable enough against lefties to be a consistent starter, but the Cubs seem committed to giving him another shot.

•   With Keegan Thompson, it’s clear to me he’s got impactful big league stuff, but what’s not yet clear is whether he can do it for more than two or three innings at a time (and balance those early innings in a start where you’re trying to conserve a bit for the middle innings, but also use enough to still miss some bats). It just feels like there was a reason he looked like a totally different pitcher when he was starting and going four innings and when he was relieving and going two or three. Hopefully he can port that over to starting, but early in this season, if it comes in relief, not like that’s the worst thing in the world.

•   Speaking of dominant relievers, I just go ga-ga when I see this guy’s clips. It’s like, Ethan Roberts has a crazy natural cutting fastball, oh but also he does this:

•   We’ll see if he can keep it up and consistently locate, but I mean, those are BORDERLINE Dillon Maples sliders right there. We will see plenty of Roberts this year for the Cubs, if he’s healthy. They added him to the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 Draft to protect him (of course, that draft wound up not happening because of the lockout), which underscores how highly they already thought of the 2018 4th round pick.

•   Mark Leiter Jr. was brought in on a minor league deal as starting depth, and although he seems unlikely to make the Opening Day roster at this point, he is getting some attention from Ross (Tribune): “Something we haven’t had in the past is some starter depth. He’s (a) guy that’s still competing. He ideally wants to start, but I think he can come in the bullpen and be a piece. … He knows how to navigate through a lineup. He developed a little slider that seems to be having some good production for him.” Leiter, 31, was excellent at Triple-A for the Tigers last year, but never got a shot even on a rebuilding team because the Tigers actually had a full rotation of youngsters to whom they were wanting to give time. That’s not to say Leiter experienced some big breakout last year at age 30 that sets him up as a guy the Cubs absolutely have to carry this year, but it does look interesting on paper when paired with Ross’s comment about a new pitch.

•   Notable on Leiter, though: he’s got a minor league option year remaining. So if the Cubs could find a spot on the 40-man roster for him, they would be able to bring him up and down throughout this season.

•   I’ll be very happy if this guy breaks out, given how much he’s gone through, but I’ll definitely be bummed that it wasn’t with the Cubs:

•   The Ricketts Family would not be the controlling owner in their bid for Chelsea FC, it turns out:

•   As for the Ricketts spokesman saying that, “The Chicago Cubs are a closed loop. All the revenue that is generated goes back into the team, in some fashion. So there’s no revenues from the Chicago Cubs being used for soccer or any other sports investment.” I believe that. I’ve always believed that. But the big boy reality is that there is a lot of potential play with those words: revenues FROM the Chicago Cubs (so what about Marquee? what about the developments around Wrigley Field that clearly benefit from the Cubs? what about the new sportsbook? etc.), goes back into the team IN SOME FASHION (what counts as “the team” for purposes of that statement?). I’m not trying to throw stones here, because, again, I mostly believe that the revenues the Cubs generate are used for the Cubs – and as long as the Cubs spend near or above the luxury tax in competitive years (which, by the way, should be like 5 out of 6 years), and spend at the top of the league on player development and related organizational expenses, I won’t have too much of a beef regardless. I’m just saying that there’s plenty of room to play with those words.

•   I think the more notable news there – as far as potential Cubs-related implications go – is that the Ricketts wouldn’t be the lead owner. Not sure what to make of that, actually.

•   Tough news for a quality young arm across town:

•   This is freaking wild, and is a huge feather in Driveline’s cap:

•   That is a 34(!)-year-old pitcher adding 2 to 4mph to his fastball in a year. I can’t even believe it, though obviously it’s true. It makes you want to know EXACTLY how he did it, and how the Cubs might do it for their own pitchers, even as they age.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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