Currently the team has Lester, Jake Arrieta, Hammel and Kyle Hendricks penciled in as starters for the start of the season. The fifth spot is likely to be a battle between several players, including Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood, Jacob Turner and Tsuyoshi Wada all appear to be in the mix for that final spot.
While all of them have their strengths and weaknesses, if there’s one that appears to have a secured role on the 25-man roster it’s Wada and that’s due to his versatility. Wada already showed he can start at the MLB level – going 4-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 69.1 IP last year – but his spot on the rotation isn’t promised. The Japanese lefty signed a one-year, $4 million deal during this offseason and his signing – shortly after the Cubs declined his option – should speak volumes of how the front office values him. Wada is a finesse pitcher; he controls the strike zone and tries to keep the ball down in the zone, so he’s essentially a similar pitcher to Travis Wood.
In the case that Wada is unable to secure a spot in the rotation, he’s still likely to have a shot on the team as he’s a lefty that could potentially come out of the bullpen. Wada isn’t a hard-throwing pitcher, but his speed changes and his mixed repertoire – he works with a pitch arsenal that includes his fastball, a good slider and a change that could be considered as plus or, at least, above average. That array of offerings could make him a potential good option off the pen as he can change enough velocities to keep the hitters honest.
Pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training on February 19th and Wada will have more than a month to battle for the final rotation spot. However, he showed enough last season to, at least, secure a role in the Cubs’ 25-man roster once the 2015 season kicks in.