Note: This article was posted after the Cubs-Pirates game on Wednesday, September 20, 2023.
It appears Jed Hoyer heard the cry from Cubs fans to put Marcus Stroman back in the rotation. If you look closely at the box scores from the last five games you will notice that Jameson Taillon last started Wednesday. This would mean he should have started the opener at home against the Pirates on normal rest.
However, since returning on Friday Stroman has only pitched three innings over two appearances out of the pen Friday and Saturday. Let’s not forget that Hoyer publicly said that the team was not sure how they’d be using Stroman the rest of the season and it appeared he’d be used in relief after being used on back to back days. That makes it seem extremely odd that with an off day on Monday Stroman has now not pitched in four days and Hendricks is starting the finale against the Pirates on Thursday.
Here’s the thing folks: Taillon has been inconsistent most of the season with the exception of a short stretch of a few games in August and early September while Stroman was out and his spot in the rotation has now been skipped. As a result, with Michael Fulmer out for the rest of the regular season, closer Adbert Alzolay likely days from returning, and the Cubs seven games behind the Brewers the pitching situation appears to be crystal clear now.
Stroman will likely start over the weekend against Colorado and Taillon will likely be used as a long reliever the rest of the season. This would leave Mark Leiter Jr. to be sent to Iowa when Alzolay returns in the next few days.
It is no doubt that they want to be in striking distance to steal the National League Central from the Brewers the last weekend of the season. For that to be a realistic possibility they need to take this series against the Pirates and will at least two of three against the Rockies this weekend; their chances of stealing the division the last weekend of the season would be better if they sweep the Kris Bryant’s Rockies out of Wrigley this weekend.
This is going to go down to the wire much like 2015 did folks. That said, no matter what they hold their own destiny and still have a solid chance at making the playoffs as long as they do not implode the rest of this week and early next week.
With that… hopefully Dansby Swanson breaks out of his slump in the next couple days and can carry this team with help from Cody Bellinger into the playoffs.
If you cannot play with them, root for them!