According to Ross, Trevor Williams and Adbert Alsolay will be the 4th and 5th starters. Start of the season’s play.
– Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 27, 2021
This news means Alec Mills will start the season in the bullpen, likely as a long reliever. The reaction to Adbert Alzolei’s arrival in the opening day rotation seems overwhelmingly positive among Cubs fans, and rightfully so. He has great hitting potential, and his blossoming relationship with veteran Jake Arrieta was a joy to watch during spring training. Trevor Williams signed with the Pirates as a free agent, so his familiarity with the Central early in the season is a big plus.
In his limited major league experience, Alzolay has spent time in the bullpen. So there’s a chance he could return to a reserve role if he struggles early in the season. In this scenario, Mills would be the leading candidate to take over the rotation. Starting this season in the bullpen is bad news for Mills, especially considering he had the best performance anyone could hope for in 2020.
But overall, this lineup gives David Ross some flexibility when the rotation is struggling or injured. Alzolei will be part of the rotation long term, so it’s encouraging to see him in a starting role early in the season.
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Following yesterday’s news that the Cubs will select Nico Herner for the 2021 season, despite the hot spring, Ross says the move has less to do with Herner and more to do with David Booth, referring to his improved defense. It’s a nice gesture, but it’s probably also an excuse for the management’s decision to stop the Hörner clock. But Bothe has more experience in the Major League and has more power than Hoerner.
Do we think the Hoerner decision had nothing to do with the manipulation of office hours? No. But is it possible that Bote has earned an opening day spot and a chance to play every day? Absolutely.
Of the four candidates for second base, Herner is the only one with options, and the Cubs may not be ready to replace Ildemaro Vargas or Erik Sogard just yet. We will see Nico Herner in a Cubs jersey this year, there is no doubt about that.
As for Sogard and Vargas, their competition will be strictly based on merit. They can both hit from the left side and Vargas is an interchangeable hitter. The Cubs have struggled with left-handed hitters at second base, so it’s all about results now. Also, the Cubs’ commitment to Vargas and Sogard does not compare to their commitment to Bote and Hoerner.
It will be interesting to see how this situation develops over the course of 162 games, but for now David Boot will be at second base.