Chicago Cubs: Breaking down the PECOTA projections for 2019

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: The finest starting pitching around

The offense should exceed their expectations. That much we can anticipate. It is time to envision what the new year will entail for the pitching, as it is projected to be a weaker spot for Chicago.

First off is Jon Lester. Lester was a stud last year, filling the role as the Cubs’ ace. He had many pivotal moments in which he stepped up with enthusiasm and heart. Respectively, Lester pitched to an impressive 18-6, 3.32 ERA finish. It was the fifth year straight Lester made exactly 32 starts in a season and a string of eleven consecutive 30+ start seasons.

This year, Baseball Prospectus projects Lester to finish with 30 starts, a 12-12 record, and a 4.38 ERA. Nothing suggests Lester is in any danger of falling behind the age curve. As he is entering his age-35 season, some regression is likely however it should not be to the point of his projection. Lester has won 13+ games three years in a row and has a three-year average 3.33 ERA. Lester should hit at least 12 wins, however, should also be able to stay out of the double-digit loss column.

Next is the big left, Jose Quintana. There is no getting around the struggles Quintana faced last season. While healthy all year, Quintana posted a 13-11 record with a 4.03 ERA. He also saw his strikeout rate decrease and walk rate increase. Baseball Prospectus has Quintana finishing 11-9 with a 3.96 ERA, making 29 starts. There is hope this could be realistic. For it to happen, Quintana would probably need just one or two more outstanding starts.

Cole Hamels is listed currently as the Cubs number two starter. Hamels caught serious fire after joining the club via trade last year. Over 76.1 innings, Hamels pitched to a 2.36 ERA. In the span, it ended up as Hamel’ best statistical period of his career. The Cubs hope he can replicate it again this year.

For Hamels’ projection, Baseball Prospectus sees him finishing 12-11 with a 4.06 ERA. Outside of his 2017 campaign, Hamels has been consistent over the past four years. The projected ERA may be a little high, and hopefully, Hamels can keep it in the mid-threes.