The Chicago Cubs made their first major move toward rebuilding their rotation. With Jake Arrieta and John Lackey on the way out, the team needed to choose a promising starter to try to complete their rotation. Instead, they decided to spend $ 38 million on Tyler Chatwood.
The soon-to-be 28-year-old Chatwood signed a three-year, $ 38 million contract with the Cubs on Thursday. He comes from a season in which he posted a 4.69 ERA in 147 2/3 innings with the Colorado Rockies.
If you squint, you can see the positive side with the play. Chatwood is still relatively young at 27, averaging 95 mph on his fastball last season and has been away from Coors Field for the past two years.
However, those arguments are tenuous. He could be younger compared to other free-agent pitchers, but he has rarely been good. His best season came in 2016, when he posted a 3.87 ERA in 158 innings. Although strong shooting is good, Chatwood's increase in speed did not help him publish dominant numbers last season.
But it's the house / road division of Chatwood that you'll hear the most. Even the Cubs managed to slip a reference to them in the press release announcing the move.
At first glance, things look promising. In the past two seasons, Chatwood has posted a 2.58 ERA in 157 1/3 innings away from Coors Field. Maybe the Cubs believe that a change of scenery will greatly benefit Chatwood.
But those numbers will be examined more closely. Chatwood peripherals are not drastically better along the way. Your strikeout rate and your walk index do not change much. Chatwood's strikeout rate away from Coors Field in the past two seasons has hovered around 19 percent. That's a slight increase, but not elite. I would have ranked Chatwood in 40th place among the qualified starters last season.
Your gait has been a major problem. In fact, it has increased on the highway, standing just below 12 percent in the last two years. Among the qualified starters, Robbie Ray's 10.7 percent walk rate led the highest in 2017.
Approximately $ 13 million per year is a small price to pay for a starting pitcher. But it's not that Chatwood has been lasting in his career. Chatwood's career at the top of pitches is only 158. It is difficult to trust him to eat a ton of tickets, and his pace of walking prevents him from throwing himself into the games when he is out.
The Cubs not only hope to improve Chatwood's performance in the field, they also hope they can keep Chatwood healthy for three years.
There are reasons to expect some improvement, of course. Coors is a hell at the launch. Chatwood home run rate is better on the road. His extreme forms of role-playing should play better behind the Cubs' box. His curved ball, which seems to have improved last year, could be much more effective to get away from the altitude.
The Cubs are more than likely to receive the benefit of the doubt with this signature. They are seen as an intelligent franchise, and have been successful among pitchers in recent years. Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks stand out, but there have been others. The team inexplicably turning Chatwood into a perennial No. 2 starter of 200 innings is somehow on the table given his record. That would not be the case if Chatwood had signed with a medium franchise.
It can not be denied that the Cubs have a strong coaching staff and a central office, and that should only help the development of Chatwood. But it's hard to ignore how much has to happen for the Cubs to come out of this deal with their next big recovery project.
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