Chicago Cubs: These 10 players must have success this season

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Expecting nothing, but hoping for a turnaround

Theo Epstein kicked off last offseason by signing right-hander Tyler Chatwood to a three-year, $39 million deal. Having pitched in Colorado, most of us looked past his surface-level numbers and focused on his road splits and ridiculous spin rate as a cause for optimism.

Instead, Chatwood turned in a season that can only be called worthless, leading all of Major League Baseball with 95 base-on-balls in just 103 2/3 innings of work. Early in the year, he flirted with disaster before things really went sideways and he was removed from the Chicago starting rotation.

His failures, combined with the season-ending injury to Yu Darvish, led the Cubs to go out and acquire left-hander Cole Hamels, who was brilliant down the stretch. Epstein brought Hamels back via a $20 million option for the 2019 season, putting Chatwood’s role on shaky ground.

Given the age of Hamels and fellow rotation left-hander Jon Lester (both are entering their age-35 seasons), I suspect we’ll see both Chatwood and Mike Montgomery get spot starts to give guys an extra day of rest on a pretty regular basis. The real question, though, is whether or not Chatwood can keep the team in the game when he takes the ball given his inability to do so in 2018.

From the start of May through the end of July, the 29-year-old allowed opponents to get on base at a .417 clip, pitching to a 5.92 earned run average. In seven of his 14 starts during that stretch, he walked at least five hitters – a simply unsustainable pace if you’re looking for any degree of sucess on the mound.