Chicago Cubs: Tyler Chatwood is a bit of a wild card

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

Despite the star power the Chicago Cubs starting rotation features, it’s one guy you may not expect who could catapult this club to new heights.

Tyler Chatwood wasted no time on his free agency, signing earlier than anybody else in this cycle. The Chicago Cubs signed Chatwood to a three-year deal on December 7. The potential has always been there for Chatwood to take it to the next level, but he has not quite been able to reach it.

The numbers back this up too, as Chatwood’s ERA on the road is two runs lower than it is at home. His home field for all but one year of his career has been Coors Field. That’s not exactly a pitcher’s paradise. Over his career, the right-hander made 54 starts on the road and 59 at home, so the sample sizes are big enough to start taking the numbers seriously.

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One thing that could be a little worrisome is his year splits. Before the All-Star Break, his ERA jumps up almost two runs (3.31 to 5.25). Is it fatigue, or teams simply figuring him out? Maybe it’s the proverbial Coors catching up with him, as it does for most pitchers.

The thing the Cubs will really like, and is part of the reason they inked Chatwood, is the groundball rate. Over his career, he has produced grounders 55 percent of the time on contact. That number, combined with the Cubs’ infield defense could produce a lot of routine outs.

Looking for a comparison for the Chatwood acquisition may bring back memories of Jake Arrieta. A very talented pitcher who was hampered by a hitter’s ballpark and various other factors, who realizes (and lives up to) his potential in Chicago.

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The Cubs rotation heading into Opening Day consists of Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana and then Chatwood. Most fans know what they are going to get from the first four. This staff arguably makes the Cubs the best team in baseball again. If Tyler Chatwood can take the next step, the argument for the best team in baseball is settled immediately.