For the third straight season, the Chicago Cubs are entering the season as serious World Series contenders, and their roster depth reflects that standing in the baseball world.
How will things shake out for the Cubs as they convene in Mesa and get their spring underway? We’re taking a deep dive into the team’s roster and finding out where things stand with the club.
Today we’re taking a look at the team’s starting rotation, which looks significantly different after an eventful offseason.
To start with, the team has acquired two new starting pitchers, both of whom figure to be in the rotation on Opening Day after the departures of John Lackey and Jake Arrieta.
The big fish was acquired just days ago, as hurler Yu Darvish agreed to a six-year contract with the team. Darvish, who previously stymied the Cubs in the NLCS when he was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, gives the team another great strikeout threat at the top of the rotation, as he’s fanned 1021 batters in just 832 career innings.
The Cubs also went out and got free agent hurler Tyler Chatwood, inking him to a three-year deal. Whereas Darvish pitches away from contact, Chatwood thrives on it, inducing a ton of ground balls, something the Cubs’ defense should absolutely love.
Chatwood’s big problem during his career has been pitching at Coors Field, where he allowed an ERA of over six last season. Coming to Wrigley Field should help those numbers, and the Cubs are banking on him to be a strong hurler at the bottom of the rotation.
In addition to the new faces, the Cubs are hoping that three of their 2017 starters will have bounce-back years after some first half struggles last year.
Jon Lester had a 13-8 record in 32 starts last season, and he averaged about one strikeout per inning with the team. He struggled early on in the season, but rebounded nicely in the second half as he helped the Cubs to their third straight playoff appearance.
Jose Quintana will also look to improve upon his numbers with the Cubs last season, as he posted a 3.74 ERA in 14 starts with the team. The lefty hurler has been one of baseball’s most consistent pitchers throughout his career, and if he can put up the type of numbers that he was putting up with the White Sox, he will provide a great stabilizing presence at the top of the team’s rotation.
Finally, Kyle Hendricks will be looking to continue his strong pitching of late, as the crafty righty put up a 3.03 ERA in 24 starts with the team last season. He will need to stay healthy, but given his track record that shouldn’t be a problem in 2018.
As for pitchers who don’t appear to fit into the team’s rotation this season, Mike Montgomery is definitely the guy to watch. The lefty should provide some spot starts during the year as Joe Maddon looks to keep everyone well rested, but his primary value will be as a long reliever out of the bullpen.
On the prospect front, right-handed hurler Adbert Alzolay will be someone to keep an eye on this spring. In 22 minor league starts last season, Alzolay posted a 2.99 ERA and struck out 108 batters in 114 innings, and the team believes that he could potentially make the jump late in the season to the big league level.