Chicago Cubs: The rotation they have is good enough to win

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 30: Jose Quintana
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 30: Jose Quintana /

“The Chicago Cubs’ rotation isn’t good enough to win.” I see it all the time. But the question remains, is it good enough to win games or not?

The Chicago Cubs have been driven by the need for starting pitching all offseason. In fact, they’ve even gotten ahead of the game and signed Drew Smyly for next season, knowing he likely won’t throw a pitch in a game this year. This year, they added Tyler Chatwood to a three-year deal worth $38 million. This gives them a rotation of Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Chatwood for the first four. The last? Well, it won’t be Brett Anderson. That you can be sure of.

The Cubs are still in the market for another starter, but the Cubs, as well as everyone else, isn’t too keen on offering the big contract. Rumors seem to have these numbers comings down from their lofty heights. And Alex Cobb? It doesn’t look like he’s as greedy as we’ve been made to believe. But whichever the case, is it a must that the Cubs add another starter?

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The elder statesman of the group

Lester is the only Cubs starter over the age of 30 (34) for the four mentioned previously. He has three years left on his deal, with a vesting option for a fourth. Quintana, Chatwood and Hendricks all figure to be around for the next three years, as well. But why is it that many people feel the Cubs won’t be able to get it done without another starter?

When you talk about pitching, there’s a level of caution that all GM’s take. A perfect example is the case of the 2015 New York Mets that my co-expert talked about earlier on Tuesday. That team was FLUSH with pitching, and that pitching sent the Cubs down in four-straight games in the NLCS. But that rotation is a shell of its former self.

How far they’ve fallen

Noah Syndergaard is battling back, But Matt Harvey almost wasn’t a Met anymore. Zack Wheeler is coming back from a stress reaction in his arm, and Steven Matz had elbow discomfort and lost his way with his mechanics.  Jacob deGrom might be the only positive story left from that vaunted rotation that went to the World Series just a few years ago.

Other than Lester–who Theo Epstein knew and had a history with–the Cubs haven’t spent much on pitching. They’ve added players like John Lackey, but none of the “big names” that most know–and now expect the Cubs to sign. But that hasn’t been the Cubs M.O., and it’ll be interesting to see if that changes now.

Still plenty of big names

There are still plenty of names out there, such as Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and Cobb. And at one time or another, they have all either been linked to the Cubs or have been a favorite of theirs for a time. It’s hard to tell what’s true, and at times we can’t always be sure either.

But this staff is more than capable of winning games, and a lot of them. Hendricks is coming off a hand injury but showed he still can get guys out. The Cubs will get a full-year from Quintana which should be beneficial, and Chatwood has strong peripherals–even though he’s coming over from Colorado.

Lester is the “wild card,” as last season was dreadful for him.  But even with the 4.33 ERA, a WHIP of 1.323 and him allowing home runs at the one of the highest in his career (1.3)? Lester was able to keep his team in the game with a guttiness and determination only found in him. He posted a 13-8 record, while the team was 19-13 in games he started.

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The No. 5 in the rotation is TBD, and with the likelihood of Mike Montgomery staying in the bullpen it could be all hands on deck. But to be honest, last season started with Anderson in the rotation (Bad idea from the start) but the Cubs overcame that to win 93 games.

This starting staff can win, but the offense will have to come out of the gates hot. If the offense struggles like it did last year to start, they won’t win games. But it’ll be a combination of the two and shouldn’t be placed all on the pitching.