Chicago Cubs: Taking a look at the Cubs’ top starting rotations in franchise history

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Kerry Wood

Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

#3: 2003

OK… let’s forget Steve Bartman and five outs from the World Series and all that. The 2003 Cubs could pitch.

This was a power team. Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Matt Clement were all hard-throwing strikeout pitchers. Both Prior and Wood averaged more than 10 strikeouts per game.

Even when they weren’t missing bats, hitters still struggled in getting on base against these guys. Those top four starters all averaged less than eight hits allowed per game. Carlos Zambrano was effective at limiting good contact that he only gave up nine home runs despite pitching over 200 innings.

While the ERAs for, this group doesn’t compare to those of a century earlier, their WAR are impressive (Zambrano: 5.5, Prior: 7.4, Wood: 6.2, Clement: 2.8). Only fifth starter Shawn Estes struggled as compared to his peers (WAR of -1.3).

Oh what could have been… What makes this staff’s performance more impressive was their relatively young age. Zambrano and Prior played a majority of the year at age 22. Wood was just 26 and Clement 28. Had the health held out, this could have been an amazing group… if only…

Next: Ending a drought