Chicago Cubs: Recent bullpen additions could spell doom for Tyler Chatwood

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(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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While his subpar debut season with the Chicago Cubs is behind him, Tyler Chatwood is facing an uphill battle at making the team’s Opening Day roster.

For as much criticism as the Chicago Cubs have taken for being inactive this offseason, they sure have made some low-key moves.

Between Brad Brach, Tony Barnette and the reported signing of left-hander Xavier Cedeno, the Cubs bullpen will look drastically different in 2019. It could include $12.5 million man, Tyler Chatwood.

Outside looking in

The Cubs starting rotation is all but set with Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Hamels, Yu Darvish and José Quintana. Thus, Chatwood is already on the outside-looking-in at the rotation. Mike Montgomery even sits ahead of Chatwood on the rotation’s depth chart.

Chatwood infamously struggled in his debut season with the Cubs, walking an MLB-high 95 batters in just 103 2/3 innings. The Cubs sent him to the bullpen after acquiring Cole Hamels, though the right-hander’s last appearance came on Sept. 8.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Chatwood’s best bet at making the Cubs’ Opening Day roster is as a $12.5 million reliever. Where he fits in is one big question mark right now, though.

Numerous bullpen options

Closer Brandon Morrow will miss the beginning of the 2019 season following offseason elbow surgery. In his absence, the Cubs have at least ten notable names available for their Opening day bullpen.

The group features incumbents Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek, Montgomery, Brandon Kintzler, Brian Duensing, Chatwood and even Randy Rosario. New options include Brach, Barnette and Cedeño.

The first four pitchers are locks to make the team out of spring training, as is Brach. If the Cubs choose to go with 13 pitchers and 12 position players, there will be six pitchers fighting for three relief roles.

Inevitable doom for Chatwood?

Six pitchers will be fighting for two relief roles, as Morrow will replace someone whenever he is healthy. Kintzler, Duensing, Chatwood, Rosario, Barnette and Cedeño are mostly competing for two spots.

Could Chatwood move to the bullpen if he gets his control under control (no pun intended)? Perhaps, but his career 5.79 ERA in 21 games (37 1/3 innings) as a reliever leaves a lot to be desired.

Therefore, the Cubs are in an interesting predicament that could spell doom for Chatwood. If his control falters in spring training, the Cubs will have no choice but to look at one of the other five pitchers for their last few bullpen jobs.

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All of Chatwood’s $38 million salary is guaranteed, so cutting him loose would cost the Cubs a lot of money. If he struggles, though, a separation might be the best option for the 29-year-old and the ball club.

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