I have decided to put together a team of all time Cubs. Yeah, I know, it’s probably been done, but not by me. This will be a weekly installment, one position per week. So to get things started, I am actually picking 5 starting pitchers. Now remember, this is MY list. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best, but they are my best.
1. Greg Maddux. For me, a no-brainer. I know he did the majority of his work in Atlanta (thanks Larry Himes), but Maddux came up through the Cubs organization, won a Cy Young Award with the team before leaving, and came back and notched his 300th career win in a Cubs uniform. Maddux would be on a top 5 list of all time, let alone the Cubs. Maddux is my number 1 starter.
2. Fergie Jenkins. I didn’t see Fergie in his prime. He, like Maddux, came back to the Cubs towards the end of his career, and he wo a Cy Young in 1971 before leaving. Now it was a different time in Fergie’s day, but in 1967, 1970, and 1971, he lead the National League in complete games. He also won 20 or more games 6 seasons in a row. He is still the Cubs all time strikeout leader. Fergie was the Cubs ace in his day, for me, he’s maybe the best #2 starter of all time.
3. Charlie Root. Pretty sure nobody reading this actually remembers Charlie Root, but the raw numbers are hard to ignore. The Cubs all time leader in wins with 201, and second in complete games with 177, complete games being commonplace in Root’s day. Root pitched for 16 years for the Cubs. Of course it’s impossible to project what someone from his era would do in today’s game.
4. Jon Lester. Lester signed with the Cubs in 2014. Many said he was good, bit not #1 starter material. Lester has been a very fine #1 thank you. He finished second in the N.L. in wins with 19 and was named Co-MVP of the 2016 NLCS. He also won Game 5 of the World Series and pitched in relief in Game 7. Yeah I think that signing has worked out.
5. Jake Arrieta. That’s right, he’s on my list. Deal with it. In the second half of 2015, Jake was the unhittable man. Quite possibly the best second half of a season a pitcher ever had. After the All Star break, Jake gave up 9 earned runs the rest of the season, good for a sub-2.00 ERA. I don’t care that he wasn’t a Cubs for very long, when he was he was great, and he has a spot on my team anytime.
So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? What omissions did I make? who did I overrate? In the next installment I will fill out the rest of the pitching staff with relievers. And I am not going to cop out and name more starters to pitch out of the bullpen. I will have real bullpen pitchers from past, perhaps present.