Chicago Cubs: Is Tyler Chatwood a rotation option for 2018?

DENVER, CO - JULY 06: Starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood
DENVER, CO - JULY 06: Starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood /
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Chatwood makes a strong comeback

In Chatwood’s first season back from elbow surgery, he put up solid numbers. At the age of 26, Chatwood won 12 games, pitching to a 3.87 ERA in 158 innings. Despite a solid ERA, Chatwood’s strike out rate remained right around his career average of 1.46 (1.67 in 2016).

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While Chatwood’s first season back from injury was promising, the right-hander’s 2017 season did not impress many people. In 33 games (25 starts), Chatwood went 8-15 with a 4.69 ERA in 147 2/3 innings pitched. Part of his struggles could be traced back to the long-ball. In 2017, Chatwood issued 20 home runs, setting a career-high. Speaking of career-highs, Chatwood struck out 120 batters in 2017, a best but he also walked 77, a more forgettable mark.

What does Chatwood bring to the table?

Chatwood utilizes a five-pitch mix of a fourseam fastball, sinker, change-up, slider and curve-ball. After using his sinker the majority of the time from 2011-2014, Chatwood decreased the amount of time he threw the pitch in 2016 and 2017. Now, Chatwood mixes his fourseamer and sinker, throwing each pitch around 30-35 percent of the time.

Despite almost scrapping his curve-ball in 2014 and 2016, Chatwood more than doubled his usage of the pitch in 2017, throwing the bender almost 11 percent of the time. Following Tommy John Surgery, Chatwood upped the usage of his slider. In his shortened season of 2014, Chatwood used the pitch 12 percent of the time. After surgery, Chatwood increased that percentage to 19.8 percent in 2016 and again to 20.8 percent in 2017.

Chatwood rarely uses his change-up, throwing it only three percent of the time in 2016 and only 4.6 percent of the time in 2017.

The young right-hander has a live arm that is capable of throwing his fourseamer 95-plus MPH. Chatwood’s sinker is not far off that pace, averaging 94.8 MPH during the 2017 season. In 2017, Chatwood’s change-up velocity rose to 88.2 MPH, more than three MPH higher than in 2016. That same story is true for Chatwood’s slider and curve-ball as they have both risen in velocity more than two MPH from 2016 to 2017.