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Chicago Cubs’ signing of Anderson indicates possible plan for six-man rotation

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Sep 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Brett Anderson (35) in the first inning of the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Brett Anderson (35) in the first inning of the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Thursday, the Chicago Cubs announced the signing of LHP Brett Anderson. With the addition, the team looks ready to use six starting pitchers in 2017.

If it wasn’t evident before, it should be now: the Chicago Cubs will have a six-man starting rotation in 2017. Thursday, the Cubs announced that they had signed LHP Brett Anderson, adding another starting pitcher to their roster. Anderson made just four starts in 2016 due to injuries but has had a successful career – when healthy.

In 127 games (115 starts), Anderson has gone 38-43 with a 3.86 ERA, striking out 507 batters in 685.2 IP. His most successful season came in 2010 with the Oakland Athletics; in Oakland, Anderson had a 2.80 ERA in 112.2 innings (19 starts).

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Anderson’s career numbers warrant giving him a chance in the starting rotation. On the one hand, the left-hander has been used as a reliever in the past, meaning he could be used in a multitude of ways. On the other hand, Anderson’s signing is bigger than him being a versatile pitcher.

Although Jason Hammel is no longer on the Cubs’ roster, every other starting pitcher from last season will return in 2017. It’s no secret that the pitchers carried a heavy workload in 2016; not only did the rotation stay healthy, but the Cubs also obviously played into November en route to winning the World Series.

To win a championship, a team has to have a reliable and strong starting rotation to anchor it. The Cubs had this in 2016, but one has to be concerned about fatigue kicking in this season. Last season, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey and Jon Lester all pitched 200+ innings, including the postseason.

In 2016, Arrieta pitched 219.2 IP, Hendricks pitched 215.1 innings, Lackey pitched 201.1 innings and Lester pitched 238.1 innings. While Anderson looks promising, his signing is as much about his ability as the team’s need for rotation depth in 2017.

Simply put, the more rotation depth that the Cubs have, the less problems with fatigue they will encounter. Even before Anderson’s signing, the possibility of using six starters was in play.

Besides the four returning pitchers mentioned above, the Cubs also have Mike Montgomery lined up as a starter. In addition, the team also claimed former Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher Dylan Floro off waivers recently.

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With Anderson in the fold, the Cubs have at least seven pitchers in place where most teams have five. While it is true that Anderson and/or Floro might not begin the year as starters, things can change.

If the Cubs do in fact have a successful 2017, they will need to start preparations for a possible postseason run early. Come July/August, one has to expect the team to begin countering fatigue with additional rest for their rotation. If it isn’t in place already, look out for six-man rotation come next summer.

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