Jacob Turner has arrived at Wrigley Field, and will officially become a member of the Cubs. The former first round draft pick and centerpiece in the Anibal Sanchez trade is on his third team. The move to land him was almost universally praised and a bit obvious the moment the Marlins designated Turner for assignment. The Cubs success in developing guys with good stuff, good peripherals and bad results prior to coming to the Cubs has been noticed around baseball. The Jake Arrieta comparisons to situation have become passe at this point.
I am not going to tackle the odds that Jacob Turner follows Jake Arrieta, Scott Feldman, Paul Maholm, Jason Hammel, 2013 Travis Wood career path or Edwin Jackson, Chris Volstad or 2014 Travis Wood. The very real issue the Cubs face is trying to give all of the reclamation projects collected this season a chance to show value. The 25 man roster can be massaged until September easily enough. A Brian Schlitter inflamed shoulder injury brings the club 15 days closer to not having to worry about those issues. The issue is that there are only so many rotation spots.
The Cubs have three starters in Jake Arrieta, Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood that are going to get the ball every fifth day despite fans' wishes. The Cubs are not going to eat the money on Jackson's deal at this point to release him. And unless a trade happens those three will be part of the rotation until the end of the season. Kyle Hendricks has been wonderful, is a Bosio favorite, and is young with 6 more years of control. That leaves one spot for the Cubs to test the four current reclamation projects in Tsuyoshi Wada, Dan Straily, Felix Doubront, and now Jacob Turner.
Felix Doubront has been outspoken on his issues with relieving. The struggles combined with his very public desire to start is one of the reasons the Cubs managed to nab him from Boston for just a PTBNL. The Cubs could keep him shut down until the end of the season and punt on making a decision on him til the offseason/spring training. Dan Straily has been good his last few outings but he has options which makes him available as depth for next season. Tsuyoshi Wada is 33 years old, and could be moved aside without much thought despite performance so far. Wada also might be a trade candidate (Jim Hendry was in attendance for Javier Baez's Wrigley debut that happened to be a Wada start).
The odds are though that Jacob Turner will be in the bullpen while Chris Bosio works on his issues. Dave Cameron wrote about the prospects of Jacob Turner, and one section caught my attention immediately:
: the current version of Jacob Turner does not belong in a Major League rotation, and barring some dramatic improvement from either his change-up or his curveball, he profiles best as a middle reliever.
The reason this confused me was because the difference in opinion on Turner's curveball. CJ Nitkowski and many others have described Jacob Turner's curveball as a wipeout pitch. It would seem like a guy that can throw mid 90s with ease and a solid curveball profiles as a late inning, high leverage reliever not just a middle reliever. The velocity is easy enough to show and is nothing under dispute.
So what is Jacob Turner's curveball like right now? By Fangraphs pitch values it is a pretty ineffective pitch. It has been a slightly above average pitch just one year in Turner's career. So it is pretty easy to see why Dave Cameron ranks the pitch as a sub-par offering.
This shows an erratic pitch. It does have potential to be a wipeout pitch at times, but it also can be hit very hard. A move to the bullpen might be best in the short term in terms of development for Turner. He can focus on developing the curveball which should be more effective when paired with a 95 mph fastball. With some success (hopefully) under his belt, Turner would head into next season's very competitive battle for rotation spots prior to any big name pitcher adds in the offseason.