Expectation is that Thursday’s Cubs Start Will Not Go to Jameson Taillon (UPDATE: Not Elias)
The Chicago Cubs next need a starting pitcher for the series conclusion in Washington on Thursday, and there has not yet been an announcement of who will take the ball.
As we discussed yesterday, there are some guys we know for sure it won’t be. Caleb Kilian’s one-game fill-in did not go well, and he was optioned out, making him ineligible to make the start (unless he was an injury-replacement; but even in that case, I don’t think it’d be him). Javier Assad started on Sunday, so he would not be on rest for Thursday. Adrian Sampson is on the Triple-A IL. Kyle Hendricks is making his next rehab start today. Ben Brown only just got called up to Triple-A.
So, then, the big question is whether Jameson Taillon (groin) would be able to do it. He’s eligible to return, and is throwing a bullpen today. That seems to line him up if everything goes well today.
But Maddie Lee writes that, regardless of Taillon’s bullpen session today, he won’t take the start on Thursday:
Manager David Ross said even if all goes well in Jameson Taillon’s high-intensity bullpen session Tuesday, he will not be in the mix to start Thursday. Recovering from a strained left groin, Taillon is eligible to return from the 15-day injured list Tuesday. But it doesn’t appear to be a minimum stint.
Taillon first threw off a mound again Saturday. The feedback from that 25-pitch bullpen session was “really good,” pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said.
With Taillon out of the picture for Thursday, the Cubs’ starting options are limited.
“I don’t even know who it is,” Ross said.
If it isn’t Taillon on Thursday, then the Cubs will have two options. They could go with a bullpen day (which seems very unlikely and not at all preferred), or they could add someone not on the 40-man roster for a one-game fill-in.
They do have a lot of options in that second regard, with Riley Thompson, Chris Clarke, Roenis Elias, and Nick Neidert all at Iowa and capable of starting. A big part of me wants to see Thompson get the look, because he might wind up contributing out of the bullpen this year at some point anyway (he has big league caliber pitches, and is Rule 5 eligible). He has so little pro experience, though, that the Cubs may not want to push it.
Elias strikes me as the most likely if he’s healthy and able. The 34-year-old lefty has extensive big league experience, and pitched very well as a starter this year in the Dominican Winter League. You wouldn’t have to worry about him being overcome by the moment. That said, Elias is currently on the temporarily inactive list, so I’m not sure what’s going on there. He may not be available. (UPDATE: He’s not. See below.)
Neidert, 26, would be the other guy with big league experience, having thrown 49.0 big league innings (including 8 starts) for the Marlins over the last few years. If it isn’t Elias, Neidert would be my guess.
UPDATE: Looks like I’ll be sticking with that Neidert guess, because it’s not going to be Elias:
That would explain why Elias moved to the temporarily inactive list – it’s likely that the contract negotiations with his new team in Korea had started.
Ultimately, these situations can wind up a win-win-win for all three parties involved if they go right. For the team in Korea, they get a player upgrade. For the team in the States, they get some cash. And for the player, they get a lot more money to play in a different professional league. It stinks to lose the starting pitching depth, but apparently the Cubs feel comfortable with everyone else in the mix at this point.
So, then, best of luck to Elias in Korea. And (probably) best of luck to Neidert on his start on Thursday. It’s worth noting that Neidert will have to be added to the 40-man roster to make the start, but then he COULD be optioned to Iowa after that. He has a minor league option year remaining, and if the Cubs didn’t want to lose him on waivers (say he looks really good), they don’t have to.