Chicago Cubs: A back-end starter won’t cut it this time around

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 14: Kyle Hendricks #28 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after throwing a pitch to Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates (not pictured) during the second inning at Wrigley Field on April 14, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

Cubs starters need to step up in 2018

Personally, I’m a huge Kyle Hendricks guy. He’s not flashy and doesn’t feature the repertoire of Kershaw or Mad Max, but this guy gets the job done. He’s as consistent as any Cubs starters we’ve seen in decades and, again, is criminally under appreciated in Chicago and across baseball.

But let’s assume he’s your ace (as I believe he is as the rotation currently stands).

Behind the soft-tossing right-hander, Chicago turns to veteran lefties Jon Lester and Jose Quintana. Between the three of them, they totaled just a 7.2 WAR – less than half of what Washington’s three-headed monster put up last season.

Adding Yu Darvish (3.5 WAR) to that mix would make him the Cubs’ highest WAR pitcher – based on last year’s performance. Now, to be sure, I expect a more stable Jon Lester in 2018 – but his best days are probably behind him. I also understand that comparing rotations using only WAR is not a fair assessment and there is a lot more that goes into evaluation in today’s game.

But I think it makes a good point, as well. Chicago boasts one of the most potent position player cores in all of Major League Baseball. Not supplementing that with a top-tier rotation worthy of going head-to-head with Washington and Los Angeles would be a travesty of the highest level.

Next: Here's how the Cubs should line up in 2018

Mike Montgomery and Chris Tillman are fine big league pitchers. But as rotation members, they don’t get you a World Series championship. And, make no mistake, that’s what this Cubs team is all about in 2018.