Hayden Wesneski Did It Again

Like I’ve said before, it’s not like you’re rooting for a clunker from Chicago Cubs rookie starter Hayden Wesneski. But it certainly wouldn’t bother you to see one as part of the developmental process, all things considered.

Still, there he was last night against the playoff-hopeful Phillies, holding down the fort for five innings of one-run ball (6 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts), pitching around a lot of flukey hits, and finding a way to stay in the moment at all times. He just looked … capable. If nothing else. And that’s a tremendously high compliment for a 24-year-old rookie in his first month in the big leagues.

Sure, you pay closer attention to the stuff. The command. The way hitters are reacting. But sometimes the ability to stay consistent with THAT side of the game comes from the level of poise and diligence a young player is working with.

Among the comments that speak to Wesneski’s presence, from The Athletic piece:

“Wes has got a veteran presence about him,” Ross said. “His routine, his work, his mental aptitude. He checks a lot of (boxes). He’s a worker, there’s background there and we know a little bit more. Wes feels a little bit mentally further along than some guys.”

Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy sees Wesneski as the rare pitcher who arrives in the majors and immediately trusts that what he does will work, no matter the results.

“Some guys come up and need success to drive that conviction,” Hottovy said. “Other guys come up and have the conviction of what they want to do and know that success and results are going to happen. It’s a much healthier process to think about, I know what I want to do, the process is right, now I’m going to go do it. Because if you’re just chasing results, this game is going to find a way to hurt you in the end.” …

“He doesn’t seem fazed out there,” catcher Yan Gomes said. “The game is not speeding up on him. He’s doing a tremendous job collecting himself, knowing what he’s doing, so that’s always quite a fun thing to see from such a young guy.”

It wasn’t the best we’ve seen from Wesneski in terms of whiffs or strikeouts, but it was certainly his most challenging assignment yet. And that combined sense of calmness and competitiveness still really shined through. Oh, and obviously it’s still not like he wasn’t great – most of the hits were flukey nothingburgers, one of the walks should’ve instead been called strike three, and he got out of the two dangerous innings he faced.

In other words, Wesneski did it again. He just keeps showing us the potential of a quality front-half starting pitcher.

That isn’t to say you proceed this offseason as though that’s who he’ll definitely be, or hand him that job in Spring Training. I think there’s gotta be at least some caution still with respect to the question of how the Yankees would’ve traded a pitcher who projects like that in the first place. Maybe we’ll see the warts in time with more exposure.

But to bring it back to the point at the top: you would be fine with that! They pretty much have to show up at some point – this league is too good, too fast, and too used to adjusting to young players – and you want to see how that presence and poise and hard work will manifest as Hayden Wesneski is getting through whatever adjustment is necessary. I like the odds that he’ll handle it well, and come out the best possible version of himself – whatever level that is – on the other side.

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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