Although he says he feels fine and healthy now, Brett Anderson’s time with the Chicago Cubs could come to an end sooner rather than later.
Brett Anderson could make his return to the Chicago Cubs in the near future, according to Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune. The question is, does he still have a place with the team?
Placed on the 10-day DL on May 7, Anderson has been sub-par this season. In six starts, he is 2-2 with a 8.18 ERA in 22 innings pitched. In his last two starts before landing on the DL, Anderson gave up a combined 12 runs in 1 2/3 IP.
The Cubs starting rotation has had an up-and-down season to date, although they have been better recently. For the season, the rotation has a 4.32 ERA, 12th-best in the MLB.
Starting rotation improving
Jon Lester, John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks all have lower ERA’s for the month of May than they did for the month of April. Hendricks actually has the fourth lowest ERA in the MLB (1.82) since April 25th. Essentially, the rotation is improving as a whole.
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On the other hand, Jake Arrieta had a 4.66 ERA in five April starts compared to a 4.98 ERA in four May starts. Arrieta and Anderson’s struggles this season are well-documented, yet Arrieta’s track record in Chicago gives him more leeway.
Since joining the Cubs mid-2014, Arrieta has gone 59-24 with a 2.69 ERA in 107 starts. His current 4.80 ERA in nine 2017 starts is not pretty; last start, though, Arrieta pitched six innings, allowing just one unearned run.
If Arrieta strings together several starts like his last, the Cubs rotation should turn into the strength that it was last season. Then, there leaves Anderson.
After Anderson landed on the DL, Eddie Butler took over his spot in the rotation and has enjoyed mixed results. In his first start, Butler gave up no runs, two hits and three walks in six innings. After a short second outing, the right-hander handed the Giants a loss to conclude the Cubs’ recent homestand.
Cubs could face choice between Anderson or Butler
Despite struggling to complete three innings last start, one should view Butler’s starts with the Cubs positively. While he has walked eight batters in two starts, he has limited opposing offenses to just five runs.
While opponents hit Anderson hard his last two starts, Butler has hurt himself more than opponents have hurt him. If Butler pitches well during his next start, there is no reason to demote him back to Triple-A Iowa.
If Butler stays in the starting rotation, the Cubs could do several things with Anderson. The most radical move would be to release him, which might not make sense since he has pitched well at points this season.
In six starts, Anderson has allowed one, zero, six, one, seven and five earned runs, respectively. He deserves one more opportunity to start, at the very least. Anderson’s struggles could be a fluke, as he could have been hurt during his last two starts.
At the same time, the Cubs cannot wait all season to see if Anderson can stay healthy and pitch well on a consistent basis. If he returns to the rotation and continues to struggle, the team must move on from him.
Realistically, there is a chance that both Anderson and Butler are out of the starting rotation come this summer. The Cubs surely will be exploring the trade market for starting pitchers; when/if they acquire one, Anderson and Butler would be the odd men out.
Anderson has been a standup act during his time with the Cubs. Unfortunately for him, that might not be enough to stick around with the team. Unless he turns things around when he comes off the DL, his time in Chicago most likely will be over.