With Jake Peavy insistent he’ll pitch this season, could the Chicago Cubs buy low on a veteran coming off one of the worst campaigns of his career?
You can’t ever have too much pitching. If you need proof of this, look no further than the Miami Marlins. This team features a deep lineup, but entered last night’s matchup against the Chicago Cubs eight games below .500.
Chicago is in the same boat. Granted, the offense has been abysmal for much of the season, but the pitching hasn’t done anyone any favors with its performance to-date. Cubs starters own a 4.59 ERA this year – a far cry from the historic 2.96 clip from 2016.
Virtually across-the-board, starts have struggled. Jake Arrieta, in the midst of a contract year, is putting up his worst numbers since joining the North Siders. Jon Lester, in fact, is the only man who entered the year in the rotation with a sub-4.00 earned run average.
While Eddie Butler has performed well since joining the mix (.216 AVG, 3.75 ERA in five starts), this team still badly needs starting pitching depth. The Brett Anderson experiment should be chalked up as a failure. So where do we go from here?
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Let me preface the following with this: for the Chicago Cubs to make another deep October run, they need one of two things.
- Some combination of Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey to pitch up to their 2016 numbers.
- Add a top-tier, impact arm before the July trade deadline to shore up the rotation.
In other words, it comes down to a pair of somewhat conflicting ideologies. Do you count on your in-house guys to step up and pitch more effectively? Or do you look outside the organization for answers – at the cost of prospects and/or money.
Buy-low, hoping for the best?
As noted above, I expect – and want – a quality arm with some gas left in the tank added to this staff. Jake Peavy, in my opinion, does not fit that description. Still, he recently told the Boston Globe about his intentions to return to a big league mound.
"“There are some opportunities to [sign] tomorrow. If that was to happen, I’m grateful for that. But the last year of my life has presented challenges I didn’t foresee coming. It’s something I’ve embraced. It’s been refreshing in a lot of ways."
Last season with the San Francisco Giants, Peavy struggled – mightily. His 1.433 WHIP ranked as the worst mark in his 15-year big league career. He pitched to a 5.54 ERA – also a career-high, making 31 appearances (21 starts).
Prior to that, though, he was a quality starter for both the Giants and Red Sox. From 2011 to 2015, he made 106 starts, pitching to a 3.68 ERA, 3.92 FIP and 1.165 WHIP. But really, what it all boils down to it simple: risk v. reward.
No-go on the two-time champion
If he wants, Peavy has a spot on a big league roster this season. But, for multiple reasons, it won’t be with the reigning World Series champions.
First, the Cubs don’t want or need another reclamation project – especially an aging one at that. Last season, the mileage on Peavy (some 2,377 regular-season innings) started to show in a big way. I understand that he adds a veteran presence to the staff, but that’s not what’s lacking – it’s consistent production.
We all saw what happened with the Brett Anderson experiment. There’s no need to go any further into it. Hopefully, he comes back from injury and contributes to the club, but I’m not getting my hopes up. The last thing the Cubs need is another such project.
If you look at big-league history, teams usually have a five-to-seven year window to dominate. The Cubs are entering the midst of that stretch and now is the time to make a move.
Do what you have to do, but this pitching staff needs real solutions, not another hurler past his heyday whose heart may very well be at home – not in the dugout.