The Chess Match Has Begun!

On Episode 137 of The Rant Live, a podcast by Cubs Insider, they started the show talking off talking about the Jordan Wicks call up before Saturday’s Cubs game being a Chess match between Jed Hoyer and David Ross. This got me thinking about if David Ross is really still on the same page as Jed Hoyer with what the plans are as a manager should be. I will write about that another day though because the Cubs have seven very important games coming up starting Monday.

Jordan Wicks is clearly being thrown into a fire to extinguish it after his Major League debut. Last night he replace Drew Smyly, who was the listed starter and pushed back to the bullpen. At first, it was not looking like he debut would go well—he let the first three batters of the game on base and was down 1-0 before even recording an out. Things calmed down after that, though. Let’s compare him with another pitcher who also made their starter because both have been compared to — Kerry Wood — for different reasons.

Jordan Wicks (Debut: 8/26/2023, 23 years old)
5 Innings, 1 Earned Run, 9 Strikeouts, 2 Hits, 1 Walk, Cubs Win 10-6

Hayden Wesneski (Debut: 9/6/2022, 24 years old)
5 innings, 0 Earned Runs, 8 Strikeouts, 2 Hits, 1 Walk, Cubs Win 9-3

Kerry Wood a.k.a Kid K (20 years old)
(Debut: 4/12/1998)  4.2 Innings, 4 Earned Runs, 1 Hit Batter, 3 Walks, 7 Strikeouts, Cubs Lose 4-1
… then 4 starts later, the best start ever by any pitcher….
(5/6/1998) 9 Innings, 20 Strikeouts, 1 Hit,  Cubs Win 2-0

Last year when Jed traded for Hayden many reports and analysts were saying they expected him to compare to Kid K once he got his footing at the big league level. That has not happened yet because Jed has been  leading the pitching decisions from the stands, forcing Tommy Hottovy and David Ross to use Hayden mostly as a reliever this season even though out of spring training he was in the rotation. Jed owned up this in May as I have mentioned in a few of my articles recently.

So now, heading into the most important seven game stretch since the all star break Jed has decided to throw Wicks, one of the top pitching prospects, into the fire. Then, after last night’s game , he was immediately being compared by fans to Kid K on social media. Here the thing, folks: We can not judge anyone based on one, two, or even thirty appearances. Why did I skip to 30 appearances? Simple, Hayden’s next appearance will be his thirtieth career appearance at the Major League Level and as I just mentioned he has been misused by Jed. So, let’s stop judging a book by its cover.

Instead, let’s see if Wesneski is used as a starter at all again this year or next year. Since he likely wont be used as a starter with any consistency again this year let’s see if he is given a permanent spot in the rotation next season and if he is then determine what we think of him because Jed traded for him to us him as a starter since he was one the Yankees’ top starting pitching prospects at the time of the trade.

Let’s wrap up here talking about this very important seven game stretch. The Cubs will be welcoming their foes from 92 miles north, the Milwaukee Brewers, in for a three game set which will be followed by their last four games of the season against the Cincinnati Reds, who are two games behind them in the Central going into play on Monday.

This means we will definitely see two starts from Justin Steele, who is expected to become the Cubs’ ace, if he isn’t considered that already, in the next couple of years. We will also likely see two starts from Jameson Taillon, who has been pitching a bit better the last month compared to before the trade deadline, as well as one start each from Kyle Hendricks, Javier Assad, and Jordan Wicks. These next seven games will without a doubt show fans what next year looks like because there is no chance Drew Smyly will be making another start this season and I would not be surprised if he is sent packing via a trade this winter.

With that… let’s see where the Cubs really stand in the Central in 2023!

If you cannot play with them, root for them!

Share This Article