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This Is Not Iowa. It’s Heaven!

Note: This article was posted on the evening of September 6, 2023 after the getaway day game against the San Francisco Giants.

A few days before it was time to expand rosters from 26 to 28 players, the Cubs made congruent roster moves, outrighting Edwin Uceta to Iowa and calling up Jordan Wicks before the game on August 26th. Wicks, the top pitching prospect, was drafted in 2021 by the Cubs and worked his way up to the Majors faster than Kerry Wood did back in 1998.

There are four other homegrown pitchers currently playing at Wrigley, though. Kyle Hendricks was drafted by the Texas Rangers back in 2011 and traded to Chicago one short year later at the trade deadline. He has been a mainstay in the Cubs rotation since 2014 when he made his debut having a major role, something reminiscent of Greg Maddux.

We can not forget about Justin Steele, Javier Assad, and Adbert Alzolay. Assad signed as an international free agent back in 2015 and worked his way through the system slowly since then and has been a mainstay in the rotation this season. Alzolay signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2012 and has turned into the first homegrown closer the Cubs have produced in a really long time– possibly ever.

Why does any of this matter, you ask? Simple: Over the last ten years, this management team–with some help from Theo Epstein has produced a pitching staff with four solid starting pitchers who are for all intents and purposes homegrown pitchers and, of course, a closer. This was something many Cubs fans, including myself, thought they’d never see in their lifetimes.

This story does not end there though because we need to look at all of their stats especially for Steele, Hendricks, Assad, and Jordan.

(ERA= Earned Run Average, WHIP = Walks + Hits / Innings Pitched)

Kyle Hendricks
Career:
92-68, 314 Walks, 1158 Strikeouts, 3.48 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 243 Games / 242 Starts
2023 (following return from shoulder injury):
5-7, 20 Walks, 79 Strikeouts, 3.48 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 20 Games Started

Justin Steele
Career (2021 thru 2023):
24-14, 110 Walks, 338 Strikeouts, 3.07 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 70 Games / 59 Starts
2023:
16-3, 33 Walks, 153 Strikeouts, 2.55 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 26 Games Started

Javier Assad
Career (2022 and 2023):
5-4, 53 Walks, 97 Strikeouts, 2.82 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 34 Games / 15 Starts
2023:
3-2, 33 Walks, 67 Strikeouts, 2.69 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 25 Games / 7 Starts

Jordan Wicks
Career (minor leagues):
11-6, 63 Walks, 225 Strikeouts, 3.73 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 48 Games Started
2023 (major leagues):
3-0, 4 Walks, 13 Strikeouts, 2.16 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 3 Games Started

Adbert Alzolay
Career:
11-21, 68 Walks, 254 Strikeouts, 4.04 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 100 Games / 27 Starts
2023 (in late relief – mostly as closer – 7 saves):
2-5, 10 Walks, 65 Strikeouts, 2.80 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 55 Games / 0 Starts

Here’s the thing folks: Alzolay is likely here for at least three more years. However, the Cubs will likely extend him past his arbitration years sometime in the next twelve to fifteen months. Chances are great that the same thing will happen with Assad and Wicks too, thanks to the luxury tax changes that were added in the new collective bargaining agreement last season. As for Hendricks–sadly, until they extend him there is a chance that fans will be driven crazy with trade rumors.

Kyle no doubt will stay in the rotation; the question is will the Cubs extend him past the team option they have for next season? Let’s imagine they do extend him this winter after picking up the option and he is here for four to five more years.

That leaves the other three home-grown pitchers who all have many years of team control left. Justin has been a man of steel (pun intended) this season carrying the team during the first half while Hendricks was shelved with his shoulder injury. So much so, he has cemented a spot in the Cy Young conversation and many analysts think he could possibly win it this year. This leaves nearly no doubt the Cubs will extend him past his arbitration years just like they will Adbert.

With that let’s discuss their two friends Javy and Jordan. Simply put, it is too soon to know for sure if these two actually will last as starters. However, for the next couple of years at the very least these two guys will likely be here in Chicago.

What does this mean for the Cubs rotation? It means they need only a fifth starter and while many do not think they want to resign Marcus Stroman his rib injury gives them every reason to sign him to a two year deal this winter and keep him in the rotation while he comes back from the injury next season… then maybe trade him at the deadline one of the next two years if they decide to be sellers.

With that… let’s watch these future Cubs champions grow with the team captain Kyle Hendricks so they can all bring another title to Wrigley!

If you cannot play with them, root for them!

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