Dallas Beeler will make his major league debut on Saturday, a 41st round pick that was on the disabled list with a torn tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand a year ago.
With a day-night doubleheader on Saturday and the ability to expand the roster to 26 players, the Cubs announced the 25-year-old will get the start against the Washington Nationals in the day game and Jeff Samardzija will pitch the nightcap.
After missing the first month of the '14 season with a strained elbow (inflammation), the Tulsa native has 10 starts at AAA (5-3 4.03 ERA) and held opponents to one run or less in half of those. Beeler does a nice job of working both sides of the plate and commands his sinking fastball, cutter and split finger, a pitch he's developed over the last two seasons. There's been reports of his fastball hitting the mid-90s but that's not his game, as he has good late movement and isn't afraid to pitch to contact.
When healthy, the right-hander has shown the ability to take the ball and turn in quality starts—7-of-9 in AA last year before the injury and 7-of-10 this year at AAA. While right-handers are only hitting .194, he's struggled against lefties —.292 with 3-of-4 homers and 11-of-15 walks surrendered vs. left-handers.
The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder has logged 60.1 innings, taking the ball every fifth day since he joined the team. His 6.4 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 are both better than his AA numbers and 1.177 WHIP is below career average.
The Cubs drafted Beeler back in 2010 with the 1,240th pick, a draft eligible sophomore at Oral Roberts. A two-sport athlete in high school, Beeler was the wide receiver on two state championship football teams at Jenks High School, as well as an all-state baseball player. A 37th round pick by the Blue Jays out of high school, he attended Seminole State College and helped lead the team to a 10th place finish at the NJCAA World Series as a two-way player. He was scheduled to miss the entire 2010 season with Tommy John surgery but appeared in 12 games for the Golden Eagles, going 2-0 with two saves and a 5.18 ERA in 24.1 innings.
After being selected by the Cubs, Beeler made his pro debut on July 23, pitching a scoreless inning with two strikeouts against the Giants in the Arizona Rookie League. He started his first full-season in Peoria and only last 12 games (1-1, 1.66 ERA, 43.1 IP) before a promotion to Tennessee for nine starts. (1-5 4.53 ERA, 51.2 IP). He spent all of 2012 back in Tennessee, making 27 starts and logging a career-high 136 innings.
He started the 2013 campaign at 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA in nine starts but had his season end with the finger injury. Beeler not only got some of those innings back in the Arizona Fall League but also pitched his way onto the Cubs' 40-man roster. Attending his first spring training in big league camp, Beeler appeared in four games for the Cubs, tossing 10.2 innings with a 5.06 ERA. He experienced some inflammation in his right elbow and stayed behind in Mesa when I-Cubs broke camp.
No matter what happens on Saturday, Beeler is headed right back to Iowa after the game. He's a candidate for a September call-up when the roster expands, or even sooner, depending on trades.