Chicago Cubs: Starting pitching proved a stark difference
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The Brewers also faced challenges around starting pitching heading into 2018. Matt Garza never met their expectations (any Cubs fan could have warned them) and was exiled to the bullpen and was granted free agency after the 2017 season. Jimmy Nelson was injured last September and eventually required surgery (he never pitched in 2018).
Each team went into postseason knowing what they needed. The Cubs pursued and signed 31-year-old Yu Darvish (six years; $126 million), despite a significant injury history, and 28-year-old Tyler Chatwood (three years; $38 million). We know how that went.
The Cubs also looked at Jhoulys Chacin but for whatever reason found him a less attractive option. The Brewers signed Chacin to a two year, $15.5 million contract. Chacin went on to post a 15-8 record and a career-best WHIP (1.163). The Brewers also signed Wade Miley (one year; $2.5 million). Miley spent time on the DL but eventually finished with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.215 WHIP.
It’s not even close. The Brewers spent a fraction of what the Cubs did on free agent starting pitching ($10.25 AAV vs. $34 million AAV), for far fewer years, and with spectacularly better results.