Mark Leiter Jr. to Start Saturday for Cubs

Mark Leiter Jr. will be the first pitcher to plug the hole in the rotation currently left by Wade Miley as he gets the start for the Cubs on Saturday. Because the early-season schedule got an extra off-day with a rainout last Friday, the Cubs have managed to go through their first seven games with just four starting pitchers. But with the team in the middle of a stretch where they’re scheduled to play 13 straight days, they’re going to need to go with someone in the rotation between Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly.

The 31-year-old Leiter, son of Mark Leiter and nephew of Al Leiter, signed a minor league contract with the Cubs in December. He now gets a shot to prove that he can remain as an emergency option while the team waits for Miley to get back and/or when the Cubs need help in the event of future injuries.

The right-hander hasn’t sniffed the big leagues since 2018 and was a long way from good when he split 20 games between the Phillies and Bluejays, posting a combined 7.71 earned run average. One reason for optimism, however, is that he posted impressive K/9 numbers while in the minors with the Tigers last season. Leiter also pitched well in one game for the Iowa Cubs, allowing one run and striking out seven in four innings.

One big catch to Leiter starting on Saturday is that he is not currently on the 40-man roster, which means finding a spot for him. Interestingly enough, Iowa pitcher Manuel Rodriguez went on the 7-day IL Wednesday and the team is currently examining the severity of the injury. It’s possible he could be placed on the 60-day IL to make room for Leiter, though the Cubs would still need to remove someone from the 28-man.

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