Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the secret shindig for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Come on in out of the cold. Kick the snow off your boots. We can take your coat for you. There are still a few warm tables left. The dress code is casual, although we suggest warm. Bring your own beverage.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
Last night I asked you who should and who will be the Cubs’ fifth member of the Cubs starting rotation, now that Kyle Hendricks is unlikely to be available for Opening Day. Most of you want rookie Hayden Wesneski in that role, with 66 percent of you voting for him. However, 58 percent of you think David Ross disagrees with you and that he’ll name Adrian Sampson as the Cubs’ fifth starter.
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.
We’ve got a little vocal jazz this evening with a performance from June of last year. Lucy Yeghiarzaryan sings “Witchcraft” with the great Houston Person on saxophone, Madison Rast on bass, Byron Landham on drums and Tardo Hammer on piano.
Just a quick reminder that you have until Wednesday evening to vote in the BCB Winter Noir Classic matchup between The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Gun Crazy (1950). Or you can just discuss either movie in the comments. As a reminder, up next is The Big Sleep (1944) taking on The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946).
Welcome back to everyone who skips all that jazz and movies.
Tonight we’re going to look at the other consequence of Kyle Hendricks (probably) not being ready for Opening Day. Hendricks has been the Cubs’ Opening Day starter in each of the past three seasons and if he’s not ready, someone else is going to get the honor.
If someone wants to argue that it doesn’t make any difference who starts on Opening Day and that everyone is going to get a chance to pitch, I’m not going to argue with you on that point. But historically, being the Opening Day starter is an honor that teams bestow on their best or most respected starting pitcher.
The Cubs have had just eight Opening Day starters this century. Before Hendricks got the last three, Jon Lester got the start four of the previous five seasons, with Jake Arrieta getting the first game in 2016. The other Cubs’ Opening Day starters since 2000 have been Jeff Samardzija (twice), Ryan Dempster (twice), Carlos Zambrano (six times), Kerry Wood (twice) and Jon Lieber (three times).
There appear to be four candidates for the job. Marcus Stroman is a leading candidate as a veteran who pitched well for the Cubs last season. However, Justin Steele had an even better 2022 and he’s been in the Cubs’ system longer than anyone but Hendricks at this point. It also may be more advantageous to give the start a left-hander against the Brewers.
Stroman can also opt-out of his contract at the end of this upcoming year, so maybe David Ross should give the honor to someone who is going to stick around for a while. That could be Steele, but it could also be newest Cubs starter Jameson Taillon, who just signed a four-year deal. There’s precedent for a new guy like Taillon getting the honor, as Jon Lester got the Opening Day start in his first year after signing with the Cubs as a free agent.
You could also give Drew Smyly the start if you want. I let you vote “other” if you want to make the case for Adrian Sampson, Hayden Wesneski or Javier Assad. I’ll only question it if you’re voting “other” and your name is David Ross.
So who should be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter against the Brewers on March 30?
Who should be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter?
Other (leave in comments)
Also, that may be the first time in Drew Smyly’s life that he’s been first in alphabetical order. Perhaps we should nickname the Cubs’ rotation “S-SST” or something. Maybe just “SST” and let the three “S” starters fight over which two are in the initials.
That’s all for tonight. We always have an abbreviated show on Tuesday night/Wednesday mornings. I hope that we made your evening a little more pleasant. Please stay warm out there. Please get home safely. We’d call you a ride, but I don’t think they’d show this evening. Please tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow night for more BCB After Dark.