Chicago Cubs: Tyler Chatwood is baseball’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Tyler Chatwood is officially moving on from the Mile High City. Projected as the fifth starter in the rotation, the Chicago Cubs hope he’ll be worth it.

For the most part, Tyler Chatwood has been a solid back-of-the-rotation-type pitcher in his career. The right-hander was selected by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the second round of the 2008 MLB Draft and made his major league debut for them in 2011.

One year later, Chatwood was on his way to Colorado in a trade that sent Chris Iannetta to the Angels.

He spent five seasons in a Rockies uniform and pitched surprisingly well. His best season came in 2013 when he went 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 20 games. That season he pitched to the tune of a 2.72 road ERA.

In 2016, Chatwood was an enigma. He finished the season 12-9 with a respectable 3.87 ERA. Here is where it gets strange: he finished with a road ERA of 1.69 in 80 innings. In 78 innings at home, Chatwood posted an egregious 6.12 ERA. His career road ERA currently sits at 3.31. Now, the Chicago Cubs have high hopes for him.

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Rotational wild card

The Chicago Cubs have a top-of-the-line starting rotation in Major League Baseball. A front four of Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and Jose Quintana is formidable. Add in a now Coors-less Tyler Chatwood, and this rotation is easily good enough to lead the Cubs back to the World Series.

Moreover, Chatwood is one of the most under-the-radar signings that occurred this offseason. He underwent Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss the 2015 season. However, Theo Epstein still saw something in him and was smart enough to give him a chance.

The hard-throwing righty will bode well with both a fresh team and a new stadium. As a guy who has spent a majority of his career pitching at high altitude in Coors Field, a place like Wrigley should be a lovely gift and, thus, breed success for him.

A look at the numbers

Correspondingly, some of the things Chatwood does well are keeping the ball down and limiting the number of hard-hit balls. In his career, Chatwood has posted a 29.1 hard-hit percentage. He posted the same percentage in 2017. Furthermore, there were a total of sixty-two pitchers in baseball last season with a higher hard-hit batted ball rate.

Additionally, there are not many baseballs that leave the yard when Tyler Chatwood is on the mound. Chatwood has a career 0.93 HR/9, which is phenomenal when you think about how most of his career has been in Coors. His fastball usage is lower in recent seasons, and more toward his curve and, surprisingly, his changeup although he does not throw that much. He saw this stat elevate a little in 2017, however still posted a respectable 1.22 HR/9. Expect more of the same from Tyler Chatwood in 2018.

Projected outlook in 2018

According to Fangraphs ZiPS, Chatwood projects to start 25 games for the Cubs and finish 12-10 with a 4.24 ERA. For the presumable number five starter, that is not terrible. That being said, moving away from Coors Field, Chatwood could easily outpitch those projections.

Chatwood will presumably face off against the likes of Yovani Gallardo, Luke Weaver, Trevor Williams and Sal Romano more often than not. The group represents the projected number five starters within the rest of the division.

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This guy could turn into the steal of the offseason for the Chicago Cubs. He brings an already veteran presence to the rotation, despite the fact that he is still just 28 years old. Chatwood is looking to have a bounce-back season and its only fitting that the Cubs can help provide that for him.