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Rotation depth atop Cubs' Deadline wish list

String of brief starts putting pressure on club's bullpen

ST. LOUIS -- When the Cubs needed a spot starter for Saturday's game against the Cardinals, they called up right-hander Donn Roach from Triple-A Iowa. But there isn't much more depth, and finding some additional starting pitching is definitely a need, general manager Jed Hoyer said.

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Roach subbed for Tsuyoshi Wada, who has been sidelined with a cramp in his left shoulder since Monday, when he was pulled after two innings.

Video: LAD@CHC: Wada leaves game with left shoulder cramp

"We've got another four weeks to evaluate where we are," Hoyer said, looking ahead to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. "With Wada's injury and Roach coming out to pitch, we've had several other short starts, and it would make sense [to add pitching].

"We know we have to add starting depth," Hoyer said. "We'll see where we are as we get closer to the Deadline. You can't make someone available. That's why I think it'll be a Deadline where we have to try to be creative and think through different avenues."

When Spring Training began, the Cubs felt they had plenty of depth, counting Eric Jokisch, Dallas Beeler, Felix Doubront and Jacob Turner as options. But Jokisch and Beeler have battled injuries this season, Turner is on the 60-day disabled list and recently had a setback, and Doubront was released.

It also didn't help that Kyle Hendricks went five innings on Wednesday and Jon Lester lasted four innings on Thursday. The short outings have put a burden on the bullpen.

"We need to get more length [from the starters]," Hoyer said. "The quality the last few days -- except for Jake [Arrieta on Friday] -- hasn't been there."

Did the Cubs not prepare enough this offseason?

"Was it a miscalculation? I guess you could say it was," Hoyer said. "Turner was hurt, Beeler and Jokisch at different times have been hurt, [Minor Leaguer Pierce] Johnson's been hurt. It's taken away from an area that we thought would have some depth."

The past three seasons, the Cubs have been sellers at the Trade Deadline. This year, they could be buyers.

"As much as we're building for the future, you don't know what's going to happen in the future; you know what's going to happen now," Hoyer said. "You don't want to do anything that you'll look back on and say was hasty, but you don't only want to look to the future and ignore that this has been a fun season with a lot of positives and can we improve some of the weaknesses we have to keep that going."

The Cubs will debate how long to hang onto some of the talent in their Minor League system, which has improved with the Draft and moves over the last few years.

"There's a chance this is one of the tightest markets we'll ever see," Hoyer said. "A lot of teams will have to be creative because there aren't going to be a lot of sellers. We keep assuming the next four or five weeks will shake some of that out, but it may not."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.
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