Chicago Cubs: Starting rotation is primed for a strong year

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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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No. 3 starter – Yu Darvish

There was some doubt that the Cubs would get Yu Darvish. The offseason took them from Alex Cobb to Darvish, to Jake Arrieta and back. But in the end, the Cubs stuck with him and signed him to a better deal than initially thought. Yes, $25 million this year isn’t cheap, but the Cubs saw past his World Series struggles. And that may have helped them get Darvish at a “discounted” rate.

When you look at the numbers of all the Cubs starters, it might appear that Darvish was the least deserving of a massive contract. But his 10-12 record (wins don’t matter as they used to) and his 3.86 ERA look pedestrian, at best. But if you ask Willson Contreras, standing in against Darvish isn’t easy. His slider is moving, and if he can put that pitch where he wants it? He could be lights out.

Darvish would have easily been a No. 1 anywhere else he would have signed. When you look at the Cubs rotation from 2016, they overachieved. All of them, to an extent. But you’ve mostly taken Hendricks and moved him up, and replaced him with Darvish. And I’m not sure we would have said that Hendricks was the No. 3. That season started with John Lackey more than likely to fill that spot. If Darvish fixes his “pitch tipping,” ala Ryan Dempster, the Cubs will be in good shape.