How Cubs’ David Ross plans to manage innings without six-man rotation

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Maddie Lee
·2 min read
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How Cubs plan to manage innings without six-man rotation originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

David Ross wondered when he’d field the first question on the order of the Cubs’ starting pitching rotation. The skipper didn’t have to wait long.

“No, no, that was good,” Ross chucked, after giving a longtime reporter a hard time for asking on the first day of Spring Training where Jake Arrieta might slot in.

The answer was, somewhere in the front three spots.

Ross will need more time to set his rotation. The Cubs did trade Yu Darvish and add Arrieta, Zach Davies and Trevor Williams this offseason, after all. But Ross did make one thing clear this week: He does not plan on expanding his regular rotation to six pitchers.

Coming off a shortened season, in which even regular starters didn’t pitch more than 13 games, the Mariners have made it clear they’re sticking with a six-man rotation. The Tigers and Red Sox are among the teams who have considered lengthening their rotation. The Cubs are leaning toward taking a different approach to preserving arms and navigating innings restrictions.

“I think it's going to be getting innings from different guys, maybe sending a guy to the bullpen and managing innings that way,” Ross said. “We've got a lot of flexibility of some guys that can be swing men and fill different roles for us.”

RELATED: Cubs rotation projection after Jake Arrieta, Trevor Williams additions

Kyle Hendricks, Arrieta and Davies are expected to fill the front of the rotation. That leaves Williams, Alec Mills and Adbert Alzolay as top candidates for the final two regular rotation spots.

Williams has the most experience, but his ERA has been above 5.00 for the past two seasons. Mills threw a no-hitter last season but has never logged more than 11 major league starts in a season. Alzolay could add velocity to the rotation, but the 25-year-old has just six big-league starts under his belt.

“No six-man rotation yet,” Ross said. “If you do go that route, you're short in the bullpen a guy.”

The Cubs bullpen continues to take shape. NBC Sports Chicago confirmed Wednesday morning that the Cubs are nearing a major-league deal with reliever Brandon Workman and bringing back Pedro Stop on a minor-league deal.

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