It’s going to be very hard to compete with the Cubs starting rotation in 2018. Just as Joe Maddon said the other day, it’s impossible to feel better about a group than I feel about this group.” This really can be a special group and the Cubs can repeat in 2018.
It all started with the addition of Tyler Chatwood back in December that already gave the Cubs a great option at the back end of the rotation. For the price tag of just $40 million over the next three seasons and with solid potential pitching outside of Coors Field, Chatwood was the perfect fourth starter for the Cubs. It may have taken a few months, but things drastically changed.
The Cubs got their target from day one, according to Theo Epstein, Yu Darvish on a 6-year deal to bolster the rotation. Days were going by and the top pitcher on the market was not signed until the Cubs finally made the move that changed the whole dynamic of this year’s rotation.
With the addition of Yu Darvish, that immediately changed the rotation from a 4-man to a 5-man rotation that is the best in baseball. The Cubs have 4 All-Star caliber pitchers and then a consistent 10-win pitcher with a solid ERA to round out the rotation. All the experts predict a strong year for the Cubs rotation, and once they were finally in action in Spring Training, everyone far exceeded expectations.
We will start off with Kyle Hendricks because he was primed for his second big year before this Spring. In 5 starts, “The Professor” posted a 2.37 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 23 strikeouts, and a 1-0 record. Not that we didn’t already believe in him, but Kyle Hendricks established himself for what should be a fantastic 2018 season.
Jon Lester, the Opening Day starter, also had a pretty good Spring Training you can say. Lester in 4 starts produced a 2.81 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 15 strikeouts, and a 3-1 record. At age 34 Jonny is definitely at the level of a pitcher in his early thirties right in his prime but at a later stage in his career. Last season took some different twists for Jon, but he definitely looks ready for 2018.
The overlooked starter for the White Sox that come over to the Cubs at the trade deadline in 2017 would be Jose Quintana who also played pretty well this Spring. With 5 starts just like Kyle Hendricks, Quintana took advantage with a 2.45 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 13 strikeouts, and a 1-0 record. For a fourth starter, those are some pretty good numbers. Quintana just like the rest to this point is on pace for an incredible 2018 season.
Now we are into the offseason additions, starting out with Yu Darvish. With all the hype surrounding his name and also predicted to have a big year, Darvish did not disappoint in Spring. In 5 starts, Darvish posted a 2.79 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 20 strikeouts, and a perfect 3-0 record. He may have been one of the best starters we saw in action this Spring which is also not too shabby for a third starter. Actually, Darvish is posting number one starter numbers which are just incredible. He too is primed for a great season.
Finally, the almost forgotten starter in the rotation, Tyler Chatwood also had an excellent Spring. We are not discounting Chatwood, but when everyone talks about the rotation you have four All-Stars and then Chatwood. Still, his numbers in 6 starts were pretty good. Chatwood posted a 2.91 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 23 strikeouts, and a perfect 4-0 record. It seems as if I have to keep writing this, but Tyler Chatwood is in line for a good season.
It is said that in Spring Training that the hitters are ahead of the pitchers in progressing for the season, but the Cubs starters were ahead of the hitter. Not one of the five had an ERA over 3.00, losing record, or a WHIP over 1.31. Those numbers are just ridiculous for Spring Training when the starters are supposed to be warming up for the regular season, but it doesn’t look like they needed to.
2018 should be an incredible year for the Cubs and with a pretty good lineup and an exceptionally strong rotation, the Cubs can and will repeat as World Series Champions.