Chicago Cubs: The ever-evolving Tyler Chatwood dilemna

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Tyler Chatwood turned in his worst start of the season this week against the Cleveland Indians. How long can the Cubs survive with his production?

After walking six in just 2 2/3 innings, Tyler Chatwood actually got off easy enough in his horrendous showing against the Cleveland Indians Tuesday. The Chicago Cubs right-hander left being charged with just four earned runs.

His earned run average still sits well under 4.00 at a 3.74. But, with the way he’s been pitching, that number could continue to rise.

Chatwood may be worse than you think

Chatwood may have been the Cubs’ hottest starter in April despite his 2-3 record for the month. His ERA in April was just 2.83. By contrast, his ERA for May is 5.29 so far. But even when the results were good, the signs of an impending regression were present.

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In his nine starts for the Cubs, Chatwood walked fewer than five batters three times. And while it’s true that he has had relative success in working around those walks, it’s simply an unsustainable way to pitch. If his distaste of the strike zone continues, the results will only continue to worsen.

Aside from the walks, Chatwood’s ability to pitch past the fifth inning has been an issue for him as well. He’s made it to the sixth three times and the seventh just once. It’s not to say you should expect complete games from your fifth starter every outing, but you’d like for them to play save-the-pen every now and then.

Fixing the course or finding a new one

Obviously the Cubs’ first choice would be for Chatwood to reunite with the strike zone before his season really falls off the rails. It’s not particularly unlikely; in 2017 he only gave up more than five walks in a game twice all season. Command wasn’t ever a huge issue for him before coming to Chicago.

It’s premature to seriously consider replacing Chatwood, but it is possibly that the rotation will look different by September. Cubs’ top prospect Adbert Alzolay is bound to make his MLB debut in a spot start sometime this season. He very well could make himself a part of the future of the Cubs’ rotation. Some rumors have also connected the Cubs to the Texas Rangers and Cole Hamels. However, the Cubs seem more likely to bet on their own guys before panicking and making a move like that.

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Chatwood’s results have been good for a fifth starter so far. But if he doesn’t start to improve in-game, the results will continue to trend downward.