It may not be long before the Cubs' starting rotation features all three of Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson and Adbert Alzolay.
Thompson could join the rotation as soon as Saturday against the Royals.
“That would be ideal,” manager David Ross said Wednesday. “We’re hopeful.”
Ross said that would be plan A for that spot. The Cubs’ Saturday starter is currently TBD.
Ross also said he’s “hopeful” of Alzolay's stint on the injured list with a left hamstring strain being the minimum 10 days.
Thompson has been stretching out to starter’s innings with Triple-A Iowa. He threw 61 pitches in his most recent start, tossing 4 1/3 perfect innings while striking out seven on Sunday.
In four starts with Iowa, he hasn’t allowed a run, surrendering five hits and five walks with 16 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings.
Alzolay long tossed and worked off the mound Wednesday. He went on the IL last Saturday after experiencing tightness in the hamstring during his start against the Marlins. He’s eligible to return next Tuesday.
“I think we’re in a spot, he would love to be back, we’d love to have him back,” Ross said. “But we’re going to do what’s right and make sure he’s healthy.”
Between injuries, trades and releases, the Cubs’ six-man rotation is down to four pitchers. It forced them to call up 29-year-old Adrian Sampson — who last pitched in the big leagues in 2019 and spent 2020 in the KBO — from Iowa to start Wednesday in Cincinnati.
Whenever Thompson and Alzolay join the fold, it will be the first time all season the Cubs rotation features them and Steele.
It might be a glimpse of next season's rotation, along with Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills.
Contributing from Cincinnati: Gordon Wittenmyer