Projecting the Chicago Cubs opening-day roster: Who will claim the remaining spots?

In two weeks the Chicago Cubs will line up along the third-base line for opening-day introductions at Wrigley Field.

Although a majority of their opening-day roster spots are locked in, barring any injuries before the team departs Arizona on March 28, the Cubs will soon begin deliberating on how best to build their team to open the year.

And with that in mind, here’s a projection of the opening-day roster:

Starting pitchers (5)

RHP Marcus Stroman
RHP Jameson Taillon
LHP Justin Steele
LHP Drew Smyly
RHP Hayden Wesneski

Also in consideration: RHP Adrian Sampson, RHP Javier Assad.

Wesneski’s results are starting to speak for themselves. Yes, it’s spring training and his shutdown performance through three Cactus League starts — no earned runs in 8⅔ innings — comes in an environment where numbers can be tough to gauge. But his stuff has been nasty and at this point he should be considered the front-runner to be the No. 5 starter.

If Sampson is the odd man out, the Cubs must weigh whether to designate him for assignment to use his 40-man roster spot on a non-roster invitee — should they need to add someone to the active roster — or keep him as an optionable player who could be used in the rotation or bullpen if injuries arise.

Assad’s uptick in velocity via an offseason throwing program while maintaining his command was one of the Cubs’ best developments coming into camp. His electric three scoreless innings in Team Mexico’s win against Team USA in the World Baseball Classic showed how well his stuff can play even when his fastball hits 95-97 mph.

Relievers (8)

RHP Brad Boxberger
RHP Michael Fulmer
RHP Keegan Thompson
RHP Adbert Alzolay
LHP Brandon Hughes
RHP Michael Rucker
RHP Julian Merryweather
RHP Rowan Wick

Also in consideration: RHP Mark Leiter Jr., RHP Cam Sanders, RHP Jeremiah Estrada, RHP Tyler Duffey.

The Cubs face tough decisions constructing their bullpen, in part …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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