Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: Candidates for the Cubs’ 2018 starting rotation

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May 12, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Eddie Butler (33) pitches during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports
May 12, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Eddie Butler (33) pitches during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports /
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May 13, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) throws during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
May 13, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) throws during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray would be a perfect fit for the Cubs. He is young (27 years old) and will not be a free agent until 2020, making him controllable.

Gray was a first round selection by the Oakland Athletics in 2011 after being drafted in the 27th round of the 2008 draft by the Cubs. At 23 years old, Gray broke into the major leagues. From 2013-2015, Gray made 74 starts and appeared in 76 games for Oakland. In those appearances, Gray posted a 2.88 ERA with 419 strikeouts and 153 walks in 491 innings pitched. He also recorded an ERA+ of 133 over that same span.

In 2015, Gray had his best season. He went 14-7 with a 2.73 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 208 innings pitched. That performance was good enough to earn Gray All-Star Game honors, and propelled him to finish third in the American League Cy Young voting.

Gray’s less-than-stellar 2016 season

Instead of improving upon his exceptional 2015 season, Gray regressed in 2016. He made just 22 starts last season, and posted a 5.69 ERA with 94 strikeouts and 42 walks in 117 innings pitched.

As Gray was attempting to put 2016 behind him, a lat injury forced him to start the 2017 season on the disabled list. Since returning from the DL, Gray has made three starts and posted a 3.78 ERA with nine strikeouts, five walks and an ERA+ of 102 in 16 2/3 innings pitched.

While Gray’s early success in 2017 is promising, it is unclear how much his 2016 struggles affected his value on the open market. One thing is certain, if he continues to post solid numbers, Gray will be a trade target for the Cubs come July. Gray will have two more seasons of team control left and would be young enough to sign an extension if the need arises.

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