Before the Cubs started their weekend series against the Brewers on Friday, the team called up left-handed reliever Rex Brothers from South Bend.
Not exactly what Cubs fans were expecting after all the buzz that was starting to pop up surrounding Brailyn Marquez, the team’s number one pitching prospect. David Ross even added to the hype, teasing a possible call up of Marquez.
David Ross, on feedback he's gotten on pitching prospect Brailyn Marquez:
"They talk about Brailyn continuing to get to a point where they think he might be able to impact us, or have the opportunity to come up and maybe impact us. So, it's a wait and see game, really."
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 11, 2020
The Cubs have 12 games left in the regular season, so although there is some time to call up the hard-throwing lefty, the clock is ticking.
It’s been tough trying to pinpoint why there has been hesitation on part of the Cubs to bring up any of their young left-handed pitchers this season, seeing that it’s the biggest need in the bullpen.
There’s no minor league season, so it’s not like we can track performance, and there hasn’t been much reporting out of South Bend, where the guys on the 60-man player pool have been training for the past couple months.
However, we finally have some answers to why we haven’t seen Marquez, Justin Steele or 2020 draft pick Burl Carraway.
Sahadev Sharma from The Athletic got those answers after talking with Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy.
The Cubs didn't need their bullpen yesterday, but I spoke to pitching coach Tommy Hottovy about how they've emerged as a strong group after a rough start. Hottovy also shared thoughts on Brailyn Marquez, who he watched pitch in South Bend last Wednesday. https://t.co/woqA2UCiXZ
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) September 14, 2020
Definitely check out the article that details the latest on the Cubs’ bullpen and the improvement it has made overall.
So, here’s why Marquez, Steele and Carraway still haven’t been given a shot in the Cubs’ bullpen in 2020.
Justin Steele: he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury, still recovering from it
Burl Carraway: simply isn’t ready to pitch in the majors yet
Brailyn Marquez: hasn’t been as consistent as the Cubs would like
Here’s more from Hottovy specifically discussing Marquez after seeing him pitch last week.
“One outing he’ll throw and the fastball is electric and maybe the breaking ball isn’t quite there,” Hottovy said. “The next outing, the fastball is spraying around and the breaking ball will be there that day. I think we’d all like to see maybe one or two more outings where everything is clicking and he’s in the strike zone and attacking with everything. He’s got that in him. The outing I went and saw on Wednesday definitely shows he’s heading in the direction and definitely someone who is not out of the question to come help us if we feel like that’s the best move for the team.”
None of that is really surprising, considering that Marquez hasn’t pitched above A-Ball in the minors and this would be a new role for him, pitching as a reliever instead of as a starter.
Still, Hottovy didn’t rule out a call up for Marquez, so I’m still feeling good about that possibility for this year.