Not only does Marcus Stroman look like he could be back back to the Cubs rotation by the end of the week, but the right-hander appears to be bringing a timeline for the Cubs’ rebuild with him.
Take it for what it’s worth from the perpetually glass-all-full right-hander, but Stroman said he expects the Cubs to be competitive by next year, based on what he’s seen from a lot of the team’s young players, including pitchers Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson.
“They’re amazing, man. Those are my buddies,” said Stroman, who has recovered enough from a shoulder injury that he’s heading to Iowa for a rehab start Sunday and then expects to return from the injured list five days later.
“Those guys are legit. They’re learning; they’ve both been dealing, and I think those guys are going to be, hopefully, household names in the next few years as they progress.”
What’s more, “We’re young; we’re a little inexperienced; but I truly think over the course of this next [few months] and leading into next year and the year after, I think we’re going to build a pretty solid team.”
Was that a timeline?
Hey, Jed, check it out. A timeline.
Cubs president Jed Hoyer has been especially reluctant to offer an increasingly angry fan base a timeline for a rebuild he refuses to identify as a rebuild — imminent trade-deadline selloff and 97-loss pace be damned.
But Stroman’s more than willing to offer optimism, if not quite promises, about his upside expectations for his middling ballclub’s short-term prognosis.
“I feel like we’re just a few pieces away,” said Stroman, who signed a three-year, $71 million free agent deal in November — and who does not, presumably, sit in on planning sessions with Hoyer or Crane Kenney.
“I truly think that if everybody stayed healthy and guys performed, we could have been right there, too [this year],” he said. “But, yeah, I’m someone who’s always going to err on the side of sooner than later.
“I see the work that gets put in everyday here. I see the young guys we have coming up that contribute right away.”
Steele, Thompson, rookie reliever Scott Effross, rookie hitter Chris Morel, et al.
Just a few pieces away? Maybe. How many? Who knows?
But the Stro Show’s back on the mound Sunday, with only the Fourth of July fireworks a match for his bright-side forecast for the Cubs this weekend.
“Baseball’s all about getting into a routine, having good camaraderie and then going out there and performing,” he said. “I’m not necessarily saying we’re far [away] at all.”