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BCB After Dark: Who should take the fifth?

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks who should be the Cubs’ fifth starter.

Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

It’s another week here at BCB After Dark, the coolest club for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re so happy to see you stop by this evening. If you’re a regular or a first-timer, everyone is welcome here. There’s no cover charge. Come on in and cool off. There are still a few tables available. 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.

Tonight, the Cubs got smacked by the Mets, 11-2 in a game that had a long rain delay in the middle. They probably should have just called it then. We’re just going to put this game behind us and move on—except that we are going to talk about Drew Smyly in the fourth section. But we all knew that the Cubs would not win every game the rest of the way.

Last week, I asked you how you thought the Cubs season will end. Most of you were pretty optimistic, but not unreasonably so. In first place, with 36 percent of the vote, was that the Cubs would lose in the Division Series. That means that you think the Cubs will make the playoffs and win the first round of the playoffs or, less likely, that the Cubs would earn one of the top two seeds in the National League and lose their first series.

In second place, with 24 percent, was a less optimistic choice. That was that the Cubs would finish the season with a winning record but miss the postseason. But 73 percent of you think the Cubs are making the playoffs. And for the eight percent of you who think the Cubs will play in the World Series this year? I like your optimism, even if I don’t share it. Still, it could happen!

Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Tonight I heard some Bob Dylan on the radio and I thought about jazz covers of Dylan songs. Or the lack thereof. While many, many jazz artists have done jazz versions of Beatles songs, there are far fewer jazz covers of Dylan songs. Nothing other than Duke Ellington’s version of Blowin’ in the Wind came to mind.

So I did a little research and discovered that there were a few Dylan covers by jazz artist. Not many, but a few. So tonight we have guitarist Bill Frisell doing a solo version of “Masters of War.” This is from 2012.

This weekend, I watched the 1960 French film Plein Soleil, which translates to “Full Sun,” except that it was released in English under the title Purple Moon. (Don’t ask me why.) Starring Alain Delon in his first major starring role, the film is an adaptation of the novel by the American writer Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley. Yep, the same book that they made a Matt Damon film out of in 1999.

I’m going to wait until I can watch The Talented Mr. Ripley again before I write about Purple Moon, which won’t be until this weekend. Some of my favorite movie essays are when I can compare a film to its remake. Or in this case, The Talented Mr. Ripley is more of a separate adaptation of the same original novel than a remake of Purple Moon.

Delon, of course, has had such an interesting career. He’s still alive, so maybe I should say he still has an interesting career, although some health issues have slowed down his on-screen appearances in recent years. But Delon was one of the biggest stars and sex symbols throughout the world from the sixties to the eighties—everywhere but the United States. Not that Hollywood didn’t try, but every American film he made disappointed at the box office for one reason or another. It probably wasn’t Delon’s fault.

But for tonight, I’m going to throw it out to you which movies and their remakes are both worth watching. Or, if you prefer, which films based on the same source material do you both think are worth while. If you love both one of the film versions of Emma and Clueless, for example, that counts too.

So tell us which pair of movies telling the same story are both worth watching?

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies.

The Cubs have a fifth starter problem. Actually, with Marcus Stroman on the injured list, they actually have a fourth and fifth starter problem. This wasn’t really a problem when the Cubs were expected to be also-rans. But now that they are fighting for a playoff spot, having a hole at the back of the rotation is a big deal.

For the purposes of tonight, let’s assume that Marcus Stroman gets healthy and returns to pitching—well, not as well as he did early this season but somewhere close to his career norms. That makes him a solid member of the rotation, if not an ace.

Tonight’s concern is more for Drew Smyly. After tonight’s loss, Smyly’s ERA has ballooned to 5.05. As recently as June 1, it stood at 3.15.

Including tonight, Smyly has given up four or more runs in seven of his last ten appearances. I wrote “appearances” because the Cubs have tried using an “opener” a couple of times against the Cardinals when it was Smyly’s turn to start. Smyly then came in during the third or fourth inning and then pitched around four innings. This worked once and did not work another time.

The trade deadline is passed and unlike in previous years, there are no more “waivers” trades after the deadline anymore. Whoever gets the start every fifth day is going to have to be someone currently in the organization.

So what are the options? Option number one is to continue to send Smyly out every fifth day, either as the starter or in conjunction with an “opener.” But there are other options.

The first option is Javier Assad, who is currently filling in for Stroman. But assuming that Stroman will be back soon (which may be a bad assumption, but whatever), Assad will either go back to the bullpen (or Iowa) or he’d take Smyly’s spot and Smyly would go to the pen. (Or get released, one supposes. But Smyly has an $8.5 million player option for next year. So let’s assume the Cubs don’t release him for now.)

The other options are to go with one of the rookies. Hayden Wesneski has made 11 starts and seven relief appearances for the Cubs this year. He’s 2-3 with a 4.52 ERA. However, he has been better (2.57 ERA) since a trip back down to Triple-A in July. But those major league appearances in his second stint were all in relief or as an “opener” of just two innings.

Another option is Caleb Kilian, who was recently recalled to the majors. However, Kilian has been pretty poor over the course of his major-league career. Over five major-league appearances (four starts and one relief appearance), Kilian sports an ERA of 11.49. But in 18 appearances (17 starts and one relief spot) in Iowa this season, he has a much more impressive ERA of 3.97. And he’s been much better recently. Kilian’s ERA over his last seven starts in Triple-A is just 2.43.

Then there is Ben Brown, a top prospect who hasn’t made his major-league debut yet. Brown started this season with Double-A Tennessee, where he simply dominated, allowing just one earned run over 20 innings. That got him promoted to Triple-A Iowa, where he did struggle a bit at first. But over Brown’s last three starts, he’s allowed just three runs over 15 innings and has struck out 18 and walked six. His overall stats in Triple-A are 6-7 with a 4.85 ERA.

I suppose there are other options as well, such as 2021 first-round pick Jordan Wicks and 2022 first-round pick Cade Horton. But since neither is on the 40-man roster (and Horton has one start in Double-A), you’ll just have to vote for “other” if you want one of them or Nick Neidert or some other non-40-man pitcher.

So who should be the Cubs’ fifth starter going forward?


Who should be the Cubs’ 5th starter for now?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Drew Smyly
    (7 votes)
  • 29%
    Javier Assad
    (99 votes)
  • 48%
    Hayden Wesneski
    (163 votes)
  • 9%
    Caleb Kilian
    (32 votes)
  • 9%
    Ben Brown
    (31 votes)
  • 2%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (7 votes)
339 votes total Vote Now

Thank you so very much for stopping by. It’s been a pleasure having you here. We hope you’ve had a good time as well. Please get home safely. If you need us to call a ride for you, let us know. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow for more BCB After Dark.