As the Mesa portion of the season winds on, assessing the 26-player roster is the in-vogue thing to do. Here is my look at the current likely options for the upcoming Cubs bullpen. The assessments change mildly after each outing, but clarity is developing. Tossing players into applicable categories makes for easier sorting, and I roll with the rotation options first.
I place the Cubs rotation as being (in whichever order):
Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood/Alec Mills
Iowa’s rotation figures to include:
Colin Rea, Jharel Cotton, Adbert Alzolay
The bullpen in Iowa figures to include:
Dillon Maples, James Norwood, Dakota Mekkes
Of the non-roster invitees, I have no specific destination for:
Danny Hultzen, Justin Steele, Ben Taylor, Wyatt Short
Brad Wieck figures to start the season on the injured list, and Brandon Morrow should start in extended spring training. That accounts for most of the roster and non-roster pitchers.
With Mills and Chatwood fighting for the fifth and sixth spots, the other 10 options are pushing for the final seven spots.
The above four have their spots rather solidified:
Craig Kimbrel, Jeremy Jeffress, Kyle Ryan, Rowan Wick
That leaves six pitchers aiming for four chairs in Wrigley:
Rex Brothers — non-roster invitee
Trevor Megill — Rule 5 pick, can’t be optioned
Casey Sadler — No options remaining
Duane Underwood Jr. — No options remaining
Ryan Tepera — Has options remaining
Dan Winkler — Has options remaining
I don’t think any of the above six have clinched a spot or eliminated themselves from consideration. My hunch is that Tepera is either with the parent club or released, as a 32-year-old reliever in Iowa doesn’t seem necessary.
Thus it’s probably six names for three chairs, with a possibility of adding other pieces from other squads, as well. From which players do you need to see an upgrade? Are you over Underwood? Do the specifications for the Rule 5 player scare you away from Megill? As of right now, I’d choose one between Tepera, Brothers, and Winkler to be in the Opening Day bullpen. It’s still a bit early to decide anything, though. An eye on the DFA wire also applies. The entire batch of six seem really similar.