The Cubs expected Aaron Heilman to make a strong case for the 5th spot in the Cubs starting rotation. And so far this spring, Heilman has not disappointed. Heilman started the 2nd Cubs-Sox game in Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon and he pitched just about as well as you can do. Heilman pitched 3 scoreless innings, striking out 3 batters along the way. He gave up only 1 hit, but also walked 2 batters. That was Heilman’s 2nd scoreless outing against the White Sox this spring, and he is pushing Sean Marshall who many believe is the front runner to land the coveted 5th spot in the rotation.
Wherever Heilman ends up, he seems to be a great fit for the Cubs. Plus he has the right attitude: “My mind-set coming in was that I was going to get an opportunity to start and show them what I could do. How I fit into this team is ultimately the decision of Lou and Larry [Manager Lou Pinella and Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild]. I don’t know how that’s going to play out in Spring Training. My focus right now is getting back to throwing the way I’m capable.”
In addition, knowing that Rich Harden is still dealing with some right shoulder soreness, it’s comforting to know that Heilman and Marshall are both pitching well this spring. In the event that Harden needs some extra time at the start of the season, the Cubs can start Harden on the disabled list and work with both Heilman and Marshall in the starting rotation. As we always say, it’s great to have reliable pitching depth.
Other good news – Kevin Gregg and Neal Cotts both pitched scoreless innings in the game. Neither pitcher gave up a hit, and Gregg had 2 strikeouts and 1 walk.