CHISportsNation

Tyler Lowe   12/8/2017

 

The Cubs made their first major move of the offseason yesterday by inking right-handed pitcher Tyler Chatwood to a 3 year, $38 million deal.  Chatwood will likely serve as the number 4 or 5 starter in the Cubs rotation in 2018.  On the surface, the signing looks very questionable.  Chatwood has undergone two Tommy John surgeries in his young career and is coming off a 2017 season where he was 8-15 with a 4.69 ERA.  His career numbers aren’t much prettier either.  He owns a career 4.31 ERA with only 438 K’s in over 647 innings.

Looking Past the Surface

However, it isn’t hard to see why the Cubs liked Chatwood if you dig a little deeper.  The righty will only be 28 years of age at the start of the 2018 season, making him one of the youngest starters of this year’s free agent class.  Chatwood averaged over 94 mph on his fastball in 2017, also ranking him #1 of the free agent starters.  In each of the last two seasons, he has induced ground balls at a rate of at least 57%.  Remember, the Cubs infield defense is one of the best in the entire MLB.  Grounders to guys like Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, and even Kris Bryant are almost automatic outs.  Perhaps the biggest positives to the Cubs front office were Chatwood’s home/road splits in 2017.  As you probably already know, the Rockies’ Coors Field isn’t exactly a fun place to pitch.  That’s probably why Chatwood pitched to an ugly 6.01 ERA in his home ballpark this past season.  His road numbers tell a whole different story.  Away from Coors Field, Chatwood owned a much better 3.47 ERA.  If he is able to maintain an ERA remotely close to that in the next several seasons, keep inducing a lot of ground balls, and stay healthy, the Cubs should be happy with their $38 million investment.  There’s a lot of “ifs” that will have to happen for Chatwood to be successful, but don’t bash this signing just yet.

What’s Next?

Stay tuned for the Winter Meetings next week.  Reports suggest Shohei Ohtani may make his decision by the beginning of the week, which could determine the Cubs next actions.  If the Cubs can lure Ohtani to Chicago, Alex Cobb would probably no longer be an option, as the club would then turn its focus to the bullpen.  One way or another, expect the Cubs to remain busy in the coming weeks.

 

Photo: Muskat/MLB

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