Chicago Cubs: Five Cubs players who will improve in 2017

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Mar 28, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70), left, reads his line-up card in the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants during a spring training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 28, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70), left, reads his line-up card in the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants during a spring training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 15, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Hector Rondon (56) throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning of game one of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Hector Rondon (56) throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning of game one of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

#3. Hector Rondon

Hector Rondon had an up-and-down season in 2016. Giving up his role as the team’s closer to make way for Aroldis Chapman, the right-handed reliever struggled with nagging injuries.

Rondon recorded a 3.53 ERA (114 ERA+) over 51 innings pitched. These numbers are not “bad” by any stretch, but it’s a bit of a drop in production from what Rondon usually does. In 2015, Rondon pitched to the tune of a 1.67 ERA with 69 strikeouts over 70 innings pitched.

It’s easy to try and attribute any struggles Rondon might have had to his injury problems. But that may not be the whole picture. Rather, his psyche might have been affected when he lost his job as the closer.

Let’s take a look at his splits. In the first half of 2016, Rondon had a 1.72 ERA with 42 strikeouts over 31.1 innings pitched. After the All-Star break, he recorded a 6.41 ERA with 16 strikeouts over 19.2 innings pitched.

He just wasn’t the same pitcher in the second half of the season. So much so that he was barely used down the stretch and in the playoffs.

Rondon was fantastic for the Chicago Cubs in 2014 and 2015. Look for him to get back on track this season and play a larger role in the Cubs’ bullpen.

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