Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: Why Brett Anderson should open the year in the rotation

Mar 14, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; (EDITORS NOTE: caption correction - Brewers player misidentified in original) Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Brett Anderson (37) throws in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers during a spring training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 14, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; (EDITORS NOTE: caption correction - Brewers player misidentified in original) Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Brett Anderson (37) throws in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers during a spring training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Chicago Cubs are reportedly close to naming southpaw Brett Anderson the team’s fifth starter, meaning Mike Montgomery will be delegated to the pen to open the year.

Talking with the Chicago Sun-Times recently, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon more or less said that Brett Anderson will be the team’s fifth starter to open the season – despite having pitched worse than his competition, Mike Montgomery.

Coming off multiple injury-plagued campaigns, Anderson has developed a routine that, according to the Sun-Times, “requires lengthy prep and warmup time before pitching.”

Maddon, who is yet to make a formal announcement, seems to be taking this into account.

"“It’d be more difficult, there’s no question,” Maddon said. “I can’t deny that. You look at the makeup of the player, the pitchers themselves, it’s pretty obvious the one guy’s more suited to start and the other guy’s more of a hybrid.”"

Anderson made 31 starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015, but after re-signing with the club for last season, he lost essentially the entire season to injury. He came to Chicago on a one-year, $3.5 million deal this winter.

Old cautions arise for Maddon

More from Cubbies Crib

Prior to that point, Montgomery was the front-runner to claim the open spot in the Cubs’ rotation, slotting in behind the likes of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and veteran John Lackey.

Lackey actually figures into this situation in a sort of roundabout fashion.

Last year, late in the season, Maddon had Lackey warm up twice in one week in the bullpen. Shortly after that, Lackey took up residence on the disabled list for three weeks.

"“I thought he was really throwing well last season,” Maddon told CBS Chicago. “I take full responsibility for permitting him to warm up (that week). That was inappropriate. I should not have done that. You are trying to win a game. Of course, he is going to volunteer. I learned a lesson there. I will not let that happen again. Had he not gone through that moment, he would have gone through the rest of the season just like he had been going. That had a lot to do with it.”"

With that injury fresh in his mind, it stands to reason Maddon wouldn’t want to put Anderson, a pitcher with a much larger past health issues, in a similar situation.

Montgomery’s relief success plays a role

Chicago will once again lean heavily on its Big Three of Lester, Arrieta and Hendricks. The trio has been racking up innings at a career-high pace over the last two seasons and will need help from Lackey and Anderson if this team wants to make another deep October run.

Given Anderson has never pitched in relief in his big league career, you have to look at Montgomery, who will occupy the long relief/swing role in the Chicago pen.

The southpaw has pitched out of the bullpen, with a great deal of success.

In 42 career relief appearances, Montgomery pitched to a 2.10 ERA and 2.42 SO/BB ratio. By contrast, when he starts, his earned run average is more than two full runs higher and his strikeout-to-walk numbers also trend in the wrong direction.

Next: Annual preseason predictions from the CC staff

When you take into account Anderson’s injury history and Montgomery’s established success in the reliever role, this seems like another no-brainer for Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs’ front office staff.

facebooktwitterreddit