Making up for lost “Hammeltime”
While questions remain regarding whether or not Jason Hammel was battling any injury at the end of the 2016 campaign, that’s no longer an issue for Chicago Cubs fans.
Hammel is now a member of the Royals and the Cubs turn to offseason acquisition Brett Anderson to fill the last spot in the starting rotation. In 2015, the southpaw was a valuable member of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting rotation, going 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA in a career-high 31 starts.
That season marked the only campaign in which Anderson broke the 180-inning barrier in his career. Last season, he made just three starts – pitching to an 11.91 ERA – before being shut down for the year due to injury.
Can he stay healthy?
Of all these potential injury questions, Anderson seems to be the most legitimate. He’s made 20 starts just twice in eight big league campaigns, with one of those years coming in his rookie season back in 2009. He’s been inconsistent both in terms of health and performance, to say the least.
Overall, the biggest issue is the sheer volume of work. Over his eight years in the big leagues, his 3.70 FIP remains respectable, although his 1.318 WHIP and 9.5 H/9 don’t exactly encourage his naysayers. He’s failed to prove he can remain healthy over the course of an entire 162-game season, yet a lot seems to be riding on his arm for the 2017 Chicago Cubs.
Mike Montgomery will compete with Anderson for the fifth spot in the starting rotation.But he was used almost exclusively out of the bullpen last year. With both arms having their own set of question marks, health will be more critical than ever for the team’s starting rotation if the Cubs hope to have a chance at defending their title.