Chicago Cubs might have a real weapon on their hands in Tyler Chatwood
By Erik Mauro
Entering the offseason, the Chicago Cubs had one goal: shore up the pitching staff. They took their first step toward doing so in their signing of Tyler Chatwood.
With a three-year, $38 million deal Thursday, the Chicago Cubs made the biggest free agent signing so far this winter. On the surface, the deal isn’t sexy, but it doesn’t have to be. He just needs to be a back-end starter.
If you really dig into the numbers, though, you’ll find yourself a pleasant surprise.
Tyler Chatwood first came to the major leagues in 2011 with the Los Angeles Angels. He started 25 games, posting a 4.75 ERA with a 4.89 FIP. Rookie year stuff, right? To help Chatwood out, the Angels traded him to Colorado, where he spent the last six seasons.
In his career, Chatwood has a 4.31 ERA with a 4.94 FIP. He doesn’t strike many out, just 6.09 K/9, but the walk rate is a bit alarming, 4.17 BB/9 over his career. However, in 2017, he had the highest K rate of his career, at 7.31 K/9. On the flip-side, it was also the highest walk rate of his career, at 4.69 BB/9.
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There is some upside to Chatwood, though, which can better explain why the Cubs made this signing. Aside from him being only 28, Chatwood had a 58 percent groundball rate in 2017, and a 55 percent groundball mark for his career.
With the Cubs’ infield, getting that many ground balls is going to bode well for him. In his career at Wrigley Field, he made two starts with a 0.69 ERA, so he has had success at Wrigley, in a small sample. In his career away from Coors, he has a 3.31 ERA. Chatwood has the potential to be an impact arm.
Slotting him in behind Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Kyle Hendricks makes a pretty formidable rotation, especially come playoff time. The Cubs are probably not done making moves, they may shift their focus to the bullpen now. But, there is one more pitcher the Cubs are looking at. That is Shohei Ohtani.
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The 23-year old Japanese sensation has narrowed his finalists, and the Cubs are among the seven finalists, along with the Padres, Dodgers, Rangers, Giants, Mariners, and Angels. Signing Tyler Chatwood does not eliminate the Cubs from signing Ohtani. Ohtani would surely sweeten the pot for the Cubs, that’s for sure.