Chicago Cubs: Theo Epstein whiffed last winter – and it might not matter

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Promising splits turn into unforgiving signing

Last season, John Lackey wasn’t great. You might think otherwise, but I assure you, that’s largely due to a sense of nostalgia – and nothing more. The big right-hander pitched to a 5.30 FIP and allowed a league-leading 36 home runs. Sure, he ate innings (a novelty in this year’s rotation) – but they weren’t exactly high-quality frames.

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So, this winter, Epstein went out and jumped early, signing Tyler Chatwood to a three-year, $38 million deal. And, to be honest, I counted myself among the fans of the deal. His home-road splits were pretty significant and, like most folks, I thought if he got out of Denver, things might improve.

Boy, was I wrong on that one.

Instead of improving, the right-hander developed literally never-ending control problems. For the first month-plus, swings and misses kept him out of trouble. As of May 16, Chatwood boasted a 3.14 ERA, despite walking five or more batters in five of his eight starts. Then, the wheels fell off.

Since May 16, Chatwood picked up just one win. Sure, that may not be the best measure of a pitcher’s success, but in this instance, it works well. Because, by and large, he was responsible for his not picking up victories. Self-inflicted wounds proved fatal more often than not, leaving everyone with a bitter taste in their mouths.