Chicago Cubs: Spring performances leading to increased optimism

(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs /

Tyler Chatwood

The Colorado air is a pitcher’s kryptonite. Your grandma could probably take Clayton Kershaw deep if he pitched in Denver. Fortunately for Tyler Chatwood, he’s found his way out of Colorado and into the Windy City.

A career 4.31 ERA might not seem impressive on its face, but again, take into account this was in Colorado. It’s the worst possible place to be if you’re a pitcher. It’s not at all uncommon for Rockies pitchers to sport better ERAs on the road than at home. To bring up a familiar name, look at Jason Hammel. His numbers improved dramatically when escaped Colorado.

In three spring starts, Chatwood has given up one earned run in six innings of work to go along with three strikeouts. A fine line to be sure, but like Justin Wilson and Kyle Schwarber, his spring performances aren’t the real reason to be optimistic.

Chatwood is entering his age-28 season. That’s one of the reasons the Cubs gave him so much money. He’s entering the prime of his career. And if you’ve watched him, you know he’s got impressive stuff. His curveball, in particular, looks very good. In Chicago, you might notice even more movement. According to FanGraphs, his fastball velocity has been climbing recently. In 2017, he clocked in at 95.3 MPH.

Based on his $38 million contract alone, it’s clear the Cubs’ brass are big believers in this guy. And since they’ve reached the playoffs for three consecutive years while winning more games than any other team in the league during that span, I’d say they know what they’re doing.

Chatwood could very easily end up being one of the best back-end starters in the league this season.