The Chicago Cubs’ rotation is a mess. I don’t mean that as a value judgment on the talent at the moment! I mean the structure of the rotation. It’s totally out of sorts.
Consider that, over the past few weeks, the Cubs have had the rotation disrupted by:
⇒ Two pitchers injured (Wade Miley and Drew Smyly)
⇒ Two double-headers in a six-day span requiring extra arms
⇒ A stretch of 24 days with just one off-day
⇒ Moving a key reliever into the rotation (Keegan Thompson)
⇒ Having a young arm show up and dominate so you have to keep him in (Matt Swarmer)
⇒ Having another young arm show up and look great but you can’t keep them all in (Caleb Kilian)
⇒ Two scheduled off-days in a four-day stretch
⇒ And a rainout
That stuff, all together (and not all bad stuff), just completely wrecks your ability to keep a set, consistent rotation. So, what the heck is the rotation gonna look like this weekend in New York and beyond?
Well, it’s a mess!
The Cubs have announced that Wade Miley will return from the IL tomorrow night to start in New York. So there’s one. Matt Swarmer, who last pitched on Saturday, will follow Miley, so he’ll have had a week between starts. From there, someone’s gotta start on Sunday, and it’s necessarily gonna be someone else who hasn’t pitched in a long time. Marcus Stroman’s last start was June 3, so it’d be a little over a week for him. Justin Steele was June 5, so it’d be a full week for him. Kyle Hendricks hasn’t pitched since June 1, so he’s already looking at a layoff of AT LEAST 10 days.
And then there’s Keegan Thompson, who is either the sixth starter in the rotation, or will head back to the bullpen for a while, or will supplant Swarmer the next time through. Either way, he might also be looking at an extremely long layoff before he starts again, so you might as well let him pitch out of the bullpen if the right circumstance presents itself.
All that said, while it’s never ideal to have to play 17 days in a row, a stretch the Cubs will start tomorrow, at least the starting pitchers will be extraordinarily well-rested at the outset.