Beeler represents a look at the future

CHICAGO -- A potential glimpse of the Chicago Cubs' future will come Saturday afternoon when, in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Washington Nationals, right-handed rookie Dallas Beeler is scheduled to take the mound for his major league debut. He might not be the Cubs' most heralded prospect, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make an impact.

“It’s nice to have a number of options,” team president Theo Epstein said Friday afternoon. “A lot of those young kids are developing to the point where we’re comfortable calling them up here. Kyle Hendricks is somebody we also considered. He’s just not on the 40-man [roster] and his day didn’t fall conveniently for this doubleheader. Eric Jokisch is pitching really well [at Triple-A Iowa]. [Tsuyoshi] Wada we added to the [40-man] roster but we liked the matchup with the right-handed pitcher.”

Beeler was a 41st-round pick in 2010 and was 5-3 with a 4.03 ERA at Iowa before being recalled this week. His best pitch is a sinker, which could play well at Wrigley Field.

“They just said go out and enjoy it and have fun,” Beeler said. “That's the best advice you can give. They said breathe. That was the big one from everybody. Just get out there, take it all in, take a deep breath.”

Where the Cubs will find pitching once Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija are moved is anyone’s guess. For the team’s sake, it would be good if some youth on the mound comes back in trades for the veteran starters, but the Cubs are going to have to fill spots from within as well. The better-known Hendricks could get a shot this season, but it’s Beeler who’s first up from a farm system widely regarded as top-five for the first time in a long while.

“Dallas has done a nice job,” Epstein said. “He’s been able to repeat his delivery and keep the ball down in the strike zone. When he relaxes on the mound ... he has tremendous sink and is particularly tough on right-handed hitters. We think he’s in a good place right now.”

The best advice Epstein might have given the 25-year-old is that the results of Saturday’s game will have little meaning for Beeler’s long-term advancement. Win or lose, he’s going back to the minors.

“It’s one start,” Epstein said. “If you throw a no-hitter you’re going back, if you don’t get out of the first inning you’re going back, so just come out relaxed and have fun.”

If Beeler only knew what his start represents -- even in a small way. For better or worse, the Cubs' future is slowly coming into focus.