Tyler Lowe   3/15/2018


In a star-studded Cubs rotation, people seem to be forgetting about the first major free agent to sign this offseason. Enter Tyler Chatwood. Chatwood got a 3 year deal with an annual average salary of $13 million way back at the beginning of the winter. Looking at it now, the Cubs probably could have gotten Chatwood for a fraction of that cost. Jake Arrieta only got a 3 year deal, Lance Lynn was only guaranteed $12 million, and Alex Cobb is still jobless. However, the Cubs saw a potential frontline starter in Chatwood, citing his gaudy home/road splits over the course of his career.

He’s been absolutely awful at Coors Field, but that’s understandable and predictable. He’s got a few things going for him now that he won’t be pitching regularly in Colorado though. Last season, he had a respectable 3.04 ERA in 11 day games. The Cubs play more day games than a lot of teams, which may help Chatwood. The righty pitched to a 3.49 ERA in all starts away from Coors Field last season as well.

Even if Chatwood is able to stay around his career road ERA in 2018 with the Cubs, there’s still question marks about his command and ability to miss bats. In his career, he’s allowed 4.2 walks and only struck out 6.1 batters per 9 innings pitched. These stats aren’t good recipes for success. The Cubs hope that Chatwood will be helped by the fact that he’s pitching in front of a Cubs great infield, leading him to attack the zone more frequently. This will result in less free passes allowed.  As far as strikeouts go, Chatwood features a 94 mph power sinker so it’s a mystery as to why he hasn’t fanned more batters throughout his career. But his spin rate on his curveball in 2017 was elite, and he’ll be able to feature it more this season if he throws more strikes early in the count.

Greenberg/Chicago Sun Times

I’ve like what I’ve seen this Spring Training from Chatwood. On Tuesday night against the San Francisco Giants, he fanned 9 batters over 5 innings. This hasn’t been his only good outing of the Spring, as he’s pitched to a 0.82 ERA in his 11 innings of work. Could he not only be a quality 5th starter, but a really, really good frontline starter?

Don’t forget about Mr. Chatwood in 2018, Cubs fans.


Photo: Haugh/Chicago Tribune

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