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Who will be the Cubs’ fifth starter?

The team has a decision to make by Saturday.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs have received good starts from their first three starters in 2022, Kyle Hendricks, Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman.

They will, of course, hope to get another such performance from Drew Smyly Tuesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Hendricks will make his second start of the season Wednesday against the Pirates at PNC Park. It hasn’t been announced yet, but I would assume Steele will open the series against the Rockies Thursday evening at Coors Field, followed by Stroman on Friday.

That means that the first time the Cubs will need a fifth starter will be Saturday evening against the Rockies.

Who will it be? The logical choice would be Keegan Thompson. He has a suspension looming, unless he chooses to appeal. He could serve the suspension starting Tuesday or Wednesday and still be ready to start Saturday.

Alec Mills will be eligible to come off the injured list before Saturday. He threw a sim game Sunday in Mesa:

If it’s Mills activated from the injured list, someone would have to be removed from the 28-man roster. The likeliest such pitcher is probably Michael Rucker, who has options remaining and is also one of just two pitchers on the current active roster who has not yet appeared this year for the Cubs (the other: Smyly). Remember that the new CBA limit of five options before a player must be exposed to waivers does not begin until rosters are reduced to 26 on May 2.

I’d like to think the Cubs hope Mills will be ready to go on Saturday. Thompson threw 42 pitches this past Saturday before his ejection for throwing at Andrew McCutchen. He could be stretched out to throw about 60 pitches in a start. Mills probably couldn’t go farther than that, so the Saturday game becomes a sort-of bullpen game no matter who starts.

The Cubs begin a stretch of 13 games in 13 consecutive days Tuesday afternoon (barring rainouts), as their next off day is April 25. So they’ll need to have five guys ready to go through the rotation at least twice.

What do you think?

Poll

Who will be the Cubs’ fifth starter this weekend in Colorado?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Alec Mills
    (189 votes)
  • 51%
    Keegan Thompson
    (229 votes)
  • 6%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (27 votes)
445 votes total Vote Now