Cubs starter Hayden Wesneski struggling with command of sweeper

The Dodgers swung at only five of the 22 sweepers he threw Saturday, missing only once.

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Cubs starter Hayden Wesneski allowed three runs and five hits in 4 1⁄3 innings Saturday against the Dodgers.

Cubs starter Hayden Wesneski allowed three runs and five hits in 4 1⁄3 innings Saturday against the Dodgers.

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The overall success of the Cubs’ rotation has bought rookie right-hander Hayden Wesneski more time to find a solution for his inconsistency.

‘‘Where he’s at in his career, we’re going to take the good with the bad and continue to work through some of the moments where he’s not as sharp and trust the human and the work ethic right now,’’ manager David Ross said after the Cubs’ 9-4 loss Saturday to the Dodgers.

‘‘He’s a big part of our success. We need him to just continue to grow.’’

Wesneski’s struggles stem from his inability to pinpoint his sweeper. The Dodgers swung at only five of his 22 sweepers, missing only once.

‘‘The slider I throw is a delicate pitch,’’ said Wesneski, who yielded three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings. ‘‘When it’s really good, I can throw it anywhere at any time. But because it’s so big, it’s hard to land and get the feel of it. I’ve had this before.’’

Wesneski, who can be brutally honest when assessing his performances, chuckled before admitting he wonders whether he can pitch well enough to maintain the Cubs’ patience in him.

‘‘I’m not far off,’’ Wesneski said. ‘‘It’s just little things that need tuning up, especially against a good team.’’

With right-hander Jameson Taillon on the 15-day injured list, Wesneski’s spot will be safe for at least a couple of weeks.

In another development, right-hander Kyle Hendricks threw 45 pitches in a three-inning stint in extended spring training in Arizona. Hendricks, according to, allowed one run and four hits and struck out two against a group of Athletics minor-leaguers.

Hendricks might embark on a rehab assignment shortly.

No real closer

Ross hasn’t had an official closer since Craig Kimbrel in 2021, and he said the flexibility of his relievers gives him more freedom.

‘‘We’ve got guys with different looks and skill sets, but they’re all in there trying to embrace their role, go and get outs when they’re asked,’’ Ross said. ‘‘Nobody feels like they need to have the ninth or the sixth or fifth, and I think that’s a positive thing.

‘‘They understand Keegan [Thompson] and Adbert [Alzolay] can give you multiple [innings], how the pockets may line up. They know to be ready to get outs in their area.’’

Ross reiterated his faith in Michael Fulmer, who has suffered two ninth-inning losses in the last week. Fulmer leans heavily on a sharp slider.

Brad Boxberger saved 32 games for the Diamondbacks in 2018 and has persevered at nearly 35 with a changeup he admits ‘‘hasn’t been great’’ in recent years.

‘‘I’m getting more of a feel for it, but I’ve been relying more on the fastball, cutter and slider,’’ Boxberger said.

Mark Leiter Jr.’s signature pitch is a split-finger fastball. That enabled Ross to use him against left-handed hitters while Brandon Hughes was recovering from a knee injury, but Dodgers rookie James Outman hit one of Leiter’s splitters for a homer in the seventh.

It was the first homer against Leiter’s splitter since Aug. 16, 2018.

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