Cubs Spring Training

Cubs spring training update: Craig Counsell sets starting rotation

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The Chicago Cubs’ rotation is set for the start of the 2024 season, with manager Craig Counsell tabbing the final two pitchers that will get the ball to open games when the season begins.

Counsell told media in Arizona Thursday, including Maddie Lee of the Chicago Sun-Times, that Jordan Wicks and Javier Assad will open the season in the rotation, joining Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks and Shota Imanaga.

Veteran pitcher Drew Smyly will open the season in the team’s bullpen, Counsell announced, and Hayden Wesneski will also remain in the competition for a role in the bullpen.

The move likely means that Jameson Taillon will start the season on the injured list as he continues to deal with a lower back issue. According to Marquee Sports Network, Taillon did throw from a mound on Wednesday as he continues his recovery from injury.

That injury opened up a spot in the team’s rotation, and Assad will be the one to fill it early on. In four appearances this spring, Assad has struck out six batters and scattered 13 hits in nine innings of work, with a 7.00 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP.

Last season Assad started 10 games and appeared in 22 games as a reliever, posting a 3.05 ERA and striking out 94 batters in 109.1 innings.

Wicks leads all Cubs pitchers with 17.1 innings of work so far this spring, with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. He has struck out 12 batters in those appearances, giving up just two walks for the Cubs.

Wicks was considered a favorite to earn a rotation spot even with a healthy Taillon in the mix, posting a 4-1 record in seven starts last season as he made his MLB debut with the Cubs.

Counsell has not yet set his full rotation for the team’s opening series against the Texas Rangers, but has announced that Steele will get the Opening Day start for the North Siders.

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