Chicago Cubs: No Justin Verlander, still no problem for Cubs

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 02: Justin Verlander
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 02: Justin Verlander /

It’s easy to second-guess after the fact. Should the Chicago Cubs have made the move to acquire Justin Verlander in wake of Jake Arrieta’s injury? Still No.

When Jake Arrieta hobbled off the mound during Monday’s Chicago Cubs game against the Pittsburgh Pirates due to a sore hamstring, or cramp, did you suddenly wish Justin Verlander was getting prepared to make his Tuesday debut for the Cubs instead of Astros?

Hindsight is 20/20

Well, of course, Verlander, if you can get him, is a nice option for any rotation. We already know, or at least can surmise, the cost it would have taken the Cubs to acquire him.

Even if they had the prospect haul necessary to acquire the former Cy Young winner, and especially considering what the Astros gave up, the Cubs are not in the situation that the Astros find themselves in currently.

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Chicago was in that spot a season ago as they went all in with Aroldis Chapman, chasing that elusive World Series. That’s not to say Chicago is not in a win-now mode, but they already made that type of move with Jose Quintana.

While the Cubs would have paid the price more in terms of taking on salary, $56 million for at least the next two years alone and a possible third, they were wise to pass.

But, still no

For one thing, Verlander is 34 years old right now. A lot of guaranteed years and money for a starter of his age. Though a season removed from being a Cy Young finalist, struggles have caught up to him at times with the Tigers.

One can also chop that up to the situation around him.

Through this season, he’s 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA. His strike out rate (9.21) is a tad lower but better than decent, and his walk rate is higher (3.51). According to FanGraphs, batters have hit Verlander a tad bit harder as opposed to 2016 (.283 BABIP versus .255).

However, his last season total was possibly due for regression, and .283 is still in line with his .286 career average. If a defense behind him is not great, his personal numbers will suffer a bit.

Detroit’s DER is dead-last among the AL, second to last in MLB. In 2016 Detroit was middle of the pack, and Verlander’s BABIP was .255. His 4.05 FIP is also down compared to 3.48 last season. While his GB rate is nearly parallel to a season ago, and his FB percentage is down, his LD-rate is up six percent.

Moot point?

The overall numbers, however, take a hit based on a subpar first-half performance (5-6, 4.73 ERA). He’s been a much better pitcher (5-2, 2.41 ERA) since the ASB. Batters are hitting .186 off him now, versus .262 in the first-half.

Arrieta sounds to have escaped a significant injury and remains hopeful to make his next start. If Arrieta is unavailable, they are already well-equipped with the status quo as Mike Montgomery works from the rotation.

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Regardless of any Arrieta fall out, the addition of Verlander for a shot at this season is a risk, compounded by age, money owed and years left, and how it would affect Chicago’s business moving forward.

They also have Jon Lester who is still owed at least $60 million over the next three seasons.