The Chicago Cubs are doing whatever they can to make up lost ground in the division. So far this season, the defending champions have had some pitching trouble.
Last year, the Chicago Cubs had fantastic pitching both from the starting rotation and those working out of the bullpen. From Jake Arrieta to Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey (eh), Justin Grimm, Aroldis Chapman, just to name a few — life was great on the North Side.
I mean, it was a piece of cake to win games for this club considering the run differential which was through the roof. This year? Not sure much. And honestly, that’s alright. You can’t expect perfection year in and year out.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things work. Each and every club in this league is going to have issues along the way. Our job is just to sit back, and enjoy the ride and leave it up to the front-office.
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For instance, the need to address their starting rotation. All four men from the 2016 title run have struggled this year while the fifth spot has been a question mark.
Once camp broke, it was Brett Anderson holding things down. Also, he pitched quite well up until he suffered a back injury. Anderson would eventually find himself on the disabled list.
So, it is obvious that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will shop around for starting pitching. That’s when Zack Greinke came into the picture a month ago.
If the Cubs decide to land someone, they are going to want to find a man that they could lock down for a few years. Unlike the addition of southpaw, Chapman, who was a rental closer from the start.
In Need of Change?
With the non-waiver trade deadline set for the end of July, rumors continue to swirl. Who else could the Cubs grab in order to find their footing? Well, that man could very well be the 26-year-old right-hander, Gerrit Cole.
Cole, who carries a 4-6 record and 4.54 ERA, has been a workhorse for the Pittsburgh Pirates for the past four and a half years.
Up until his most recent outing, which was today, he holds a career 3.42 earned run average in 107 starts. In those starts, he pitched his way through 655 2/3 innings, posting a 604/165 K/BB ratio, and 1.22 WHIP.
The former No. 1 overall pick from the 2011 draft turned in his best year as a big league starter back in 2015. A year in which the Cubs eliminated the Pittsburgh Pirates from playoff contention, with him on the mound.
Over the course of that campaign, he posted career bests in multiple categories. Most noteworthy, 202 strikeouts, 19 wins, and 2.60 ERA all while starting 32 games and working through 208 innings.
His 202 strikeouts put him 17th in the league, 10th in the National League but his win total put him second behind Arrieta and Dallas Keuchel. Not too bad.
Despite a hiccup in 2016, Cole is still considered to be one of the top arms in the National League — if not, the entire league. And if the Cubs were able to take off him Pittsburgh’s hands, a long-term deal could potentially be in the works.
But for now, he isn’t set to become an unrestricted free agent until 2020. His salary last year was a little over $500 thousand, finally landing himself a whopping $3.75 million deal for 2017.
He is expected to receive a ton of money when it’s time for him to test the market, so why not give him a long deal to hold him down? Who knows, Cole could end up replacing Arrieta, setting himself up as Lester’s follow-up or potentially becoming the ace in the future.