Chicago Cubs: How does the Cubs starting rotation stack up?

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Rounding out the rotation

The expectations of the final two spots in most competitive rotations are for guys to be innings eaters, to take the mound every five days, and keep the game close.  For the Cubs, Jose Quintana has been that guy.  Last year was a bit of struggle for the lefty but he went out and threw his innings and Cubs won most of his games.  Quintana struggled in the first two months and then settled down in May.

The good times faded around midseason but he finished strong in September.  A touch more consistency in 2019 and Quintana will fill out the rotation nicely.  Finally, there’s Yu Darvish, for whom 2018 was a total bust.  He would certainly slot higher than a back of rotation starter if not for what happened last year.  I see the Cubs starting Darvish in the four spot to reduce the pressure and build both his confidence and arm strength.  If he isn’t ready to go after spring training then look for Mike Montgomery to start.

The Cardinals have a few options for the last spots in the rotation, any of whom could fill the role very well, starting with an aging Adam Wainwright.  The last three seasons have not been kind to the 37-year-old righty.  And 2018 added injury to insult as health limited Wainwright to only eight games.  A free agent after the 2018 season, the Cards signed him to an incentive-based contract in 2019.  Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Luke Weaver, and any of a host of others could fill out the five spot in the Cards rotation.

The Brewers also have options in the back end of the rotation.  Junior Guerra, Freddy Peralta, among others will compete for these spots.  And the Brewers could add depth through free agency.

Pirates and Reds. I see the Pirates possibly dropping Chris Archer to the four spot in 2019 after his subpar performance in 2018.  Certainly, he could climb the ladder as the season goes on or if others don’t work out, or if he has a solid spring training.  Rounding out the rotation for the Pirates will be either Ivan Nova or Joe Musgrove.  Again this will be a call made after spring training, assuming Musgrove is ready in time.

Advantage: Cubs.  If you have Yu Darvish as your number four, you have a huge advantage over any team.  And Quintana matches up against any division rival in these spots unless Wainwright has a spectacular comeback, which will mean he’ll likely move up in the Cards rotation anyway.

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For 2019 – It’s the Cubs

The Cubs go into 2019 with one question mark: Yu Darvish.  And that’s not really a question mark if he stays healthy.  The Cards, Brewers, and even more so the Pirates and Reds, have serious questions after their top starters.  From top to bottom, if the Cubs starters perform the way they are capable of then, without doubt, this is the most formidable rotation in the NL Central.