I don’t care that some guy I’ve never heard of is pitching on Friday for the Chicago Cubs because baseball is just a few days away from starting once again.
The Cubs announced the first three starting pitchers for spring training, with two familiar names in Eddie Butler and Jen-Ho Tseng. Left-hander Michael Roth will start the first Cactus League game for the Cubs on Friday, when they begin spring action against the Milwaukee Brewers.
#Cubs pitching for 1st 3 Cactus League games: Fri: Roth, Sat: Butler, Sun: Tseng. Expect the projected starting five to get in games next week
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) February 21, 2018
There’s almost no chance any of the three make the 25-man roster out of spring training, but nonetheless Butler is competing for the final bullpen spot. The 26-year-old had a great debut with the Cubs in 2017, pithing six shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in a 3-2 win in May. After that Butler struggled with his control and made 11 total starts and 13 appearances overall for the team.
Butler is out of minor-league options, so if he doesn’t make the roster he could be picked up by any team after being placed on waivers.
Meanwhile, you’ll remember Tseng as the Cubs 2017 minor-league pitcher of the year. The 23-year-old made his MLB debut against the New York Mets last year and let his emotions get the best of him. Tseng allowed five runs, lasting only three innings in his first big-league game in a wild 14-6 win. He also pitched three shutout innings against the Cardinals the day after the Cubs clinched the division.
Theo Epstein brought up Tseng after 2017, as being somewhere in the picture for the Cubs starting pitching depth. With Mike Montgomery already being the sixth guy in the rotation, Tseng is destined to begin the year at Triple-A. However, if a starter has to miss some time, Tseng could be the first pitcher from the minors to get the call up in case of emergency.
Finally, Michael Roth. He’s 28-years-old and spent 2017 in the minors. He has pitched in the majors with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Texas Rangers, racking up an 8.50 ERA in 36 MLB innings.
Something went terribly wrong if Roth pitches in the regular season for the Cubs, but his presence on the mound Friday is more than welcome, as it signals the start of another MLB season.
Friday, 2:05 p.m. first pitch, let’s go!