The Chicago Cubs had one of the MLB’s best starting pitching rotations this past season, and one of their main focuses this off-season was to make it even better. One of the Cubs first off-season moves was releasing Jason Hammel, who started off hot, but fizzled down the stretch finishing with a 3.83 ERA and questions about his health. The Cubs made a hard push to sign Tyson Ross, but missed out last week when Ross opted to sign with the Texas Rangers. That leaves a few options on the table.

Travis Wood 

The Cubs came out last week and said that of they missed out on Tyson Ross, they’d look at resigning Travis Wood. Wood was a big part of the Cubs winning the World Series this past season. He pitched mainly in relief pitching 61 innings in 77 games and finishing with 4 wins and a 2.95 ERA. He was one of the key middle relief pitchers, setting the path for Rondon and Chapman to finish off opponents. Wood was also very helpful to the team at the plate with a .182 BA, a RBI, and a major home run in the playoffs. He also contributed huge in the playoffs with a few innings in left field.

Mike Montgomery 

On July 20, Theo Epstein made one of the most low key impressive moves of the season acquiring Mike Montgomery from the Seattle Mariners. Montgomery was having a nice season in the Mariners bullpen at the time and was acquired during the time that the Cubs were chasing after Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller. Montgomery ended up pitching 100 innings in 49 games (7 starts) between the 2 teams ending up with 4 wins and a 2.52 ERA. He was great out of the bullpen, made a nice spot start to give the starting rotation a break, and threw the final pitch that knocked off the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the World Series.

Jason Hammel

Is it out of the question that the Cubs look at bringing back Jason Hammel? When the two sides parted ways, the Cubs wouldn’t rule out a reunion down the line. There are questions about Hammel’s health as he fizzled down the stretch last season, but he’s familiar with the club and makes a decent 5th starter, especially if they watch his pitch count and utilize the bullpen in his starts. Hammel was considered one of the top free agent starting pitchers going into this off-season, but his market has been awfully quiet and reports have said that he has been only offered 1 year deals. I don’t think it’s out of the Cubs reality to offer Hammel a one year deal. Maybe they sign him to that deal and put him in the bullpen to keep him fresh, although I’m not sure how Hammel would react to an offer like that.

It boils down to this. The Cubs have their 4 known starters in Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, and Kyle Hendricks. It’s just a matter of figuring out who that #5 guy will be. Whoever it is, he’ll be in the company of an amazing rotation.

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