Wednesday, May 31, 2023

David Ross Knows Who Won the 5th Starter Competition


I’m sure there are valid reasons for the Cubs not letting us officially know, but everyone watching this spring training can see that Hayden Wesneski is going to be the fifth starter when the season begins.

Maybe there was an eyebrow raised for a minute after Wesneski’s previous start, when he wore down against Los Angeles Dodgers, as he gave up a three-run home run, another single and then was pulled after only getting one out in the fourth inning. However, Wesneski left no doubt a week before Opening Day on why he’s earned a spot in the starting rotation when the Cubs break camp and leave Arizona to begin the 2023 season.

Cubs manager David Ross hasn’t said it, but he can’t fool us and although he’s waiting to say it publicly, he already knows who won the fifth starter competition.

Via The Athletic.

On a more positive note, Wesneski continues to blow away the competition and appears to be running away with the fifth spot in the rotation. Ross still is being coy about his decision, though did admit he has a “good idea” of who will fill that role.

Wesneski said Thursday’s outing was the best he’s felt in spring training and it was apparent as his velocity was up a bit and even hit 97mph with his fastball early on against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

And as always, Wesneski’s slider was flat out dirty.

He struck out five batters in five innings of work, giving up four hits and two walks. The only run that scored against him came in the fifth inning after a bad pickoff attempt to third base allowed Corbin Carroll to trot across home plate.

Wesneski was throwing almost everything in his arsenal against the Diamondbacks as he was trying to cement his status in the rotation. The rookie right-hander was sitting at 94-95mph according to The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma and Wesneski even mixed in some change ups.

One of those change ups came against left-handed hitter Alek Thomas, striking out the young outfielder in the second inning.

Although at first I thought Adrian Sampson would hold on to the fifth starter role in the opening week of spring training, I was and still am pretty high on Wesneski. I know it was only a handful of starts in September, but this dude was freaking awesome out there in his first run in the majors. Yet, it’s not his slider, or the uptick in velocity that’s been most impressive so far in spring training, it’s his maturity level.

That’s what players and coaches keep saying about Wesneski, who is in his first big league camp with the Cubs. It’s how, after only pitching 33 MLB innings last year, Wesneski looks like a 10-year veteran in spring training based on how he’s been going about his business, putting in the work between starts and preparing like he’s been in the league for much longer than he has.

While Marcus Stroman was named the Opening Day starter and there are big expectations for Justin Steele, it should not be surprising to anyone if Hayden Wesneski ends up being the best starting pitcher on the Cubs in 2023.


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Eleanor Eleanore
Eleanor Eleanore
Mar 24, 2023 12:26 pm


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