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The Cubs Might Need A 6th Starter Soon

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Joe Maddon hinted as much Tuesday.

Eddie Butler throws during spring training
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

In 2016, the Cubs went to July before they had someone other than their top five rotation guys start a game. Adam Warren (remember him?) started the 84th game of the season, July 6 against the Reds, and threw five shutout innings before the bullpen blew the game. (For his effort, Warren got traded to the Yankees 19 days later.)

That was done primarily because the Cubs were in a stretch of 24 games in 24 days.

This year, the Cubs might need a break for the current rotation because, frankly, the rotation’s been pretty bad. Cubs starters, through Tuesday’s game, rank 26th in MLB with a 4.66 ERA. Only the Rockies, Marlins, Indians (!) and Reds are worse. This is a big change from last year when Cubs starters posted the best ERA in baseball.

Joe Maddon says the Cubs are considering adding a sixth starter soon:

Lester's short outing heightened the anticipation the Cubs will alter their rotation sooner than they did last year in early July, when Adam Warren was inserted as a sixth starter in their 84th game. Maddon confirmed doing so again remains an option.

The Cubs play a stretch of 16 games without a scheduled day off to end May, and Maddon acknowledged that he discussed "different things" Monday night with President Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and assistant GM Shiraz Rehman.

"We have to have these on-going discussions and be proactive, in advance of moments," Maddon said. "We're getting to the point we actually might have to do something about it. It's part of the discussion."

So who would that be? At this stage of the season, it’s unlikely the Cubs would pick up someone from outside the organization, which means it could be one of the guys at Triple-A Iowa who are already on the 40-man roster.

Those men are: Eddie Butler, Rob Zastryzny, Alec Mills and Jake Buchanan.

Butler is currently on the seven-day DL. He rolled his ankle about 10 days ago, but the injury is not supposed to be serious and he should be back to pitching soon.

Mills is also on the seven-day DL. He suffered a left ankle contusion on April 14 and hasn’t pitched since.

Zastryzny hasn’t started a game this year, instead pitching out of the bullpen.

Buchanan has made four starts and posted a 7.23 ERA with five home runs allowed in 18⅔ innings.

Butler would seem to be the best choice, presuming he’s healthy. The Cubs do have two off days coming up (May 11 and 15), but as noted in the article above, they then play 16 straight days before an off day June 1. It’d be sometime in that stretch that they could use a sixth starter.

The final option, instead of someone from Iowa, would be to give Mike Montgomery a spot start. Montgomery threw pretty well Monday night in relief and was stretched out to 52 pitches. He’s thrown 40+ pitches two other times.

Who should be the Cubs’ sixth starter if and when they need one?

Poll

The Cubs’ sixth starter should be...

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Jake Buchanan
    (19 votes)
  • 20%
    Eddie Butler
    (385 votes)
  • 1%
    Alec Mills
    (19 votes)
  • 67%
    Mike Montgomery
    (1279 votes)
  • 5%
    Rob Zastryzny
    (112 votes)
  • 4%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (81 votes)
1895 votes total Vote Now