Chicago Cubs: Top things to keep an eye on heading into 2019 season

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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Can Chatwood turn things around in year two?

When the Cubs signed Tyler Chatwood last offseason, it was met with perplexity due to the sizeable deal (three-year, $38M) for a pitcher coming off a 15-loss, near 5.00 ERA season. However, most chalked it up as perhaps another brilliant steal by Theo Epstein who’s career could see a turnaround reminiscent of Jake Arrieta.

It quickly became apparent that Chatwood was anything but consistent. To say he struggled with control might be the understatement of the century. He walked nearly as many batters as he struck out (a league-worst 19.6 percent walk rate.)  It was a long season for the right-hander, who only pitched five times after July 26.

Chatwood was quickly cast aside as a bust and the contract, seen as a crippling deterrent to the Cubs making any notable moves, drew the ire of fans on the North Side.

Fast forward to this spring, Chatwood has turned heads in the Cactus League.  In eight innings pitched, he compiled a 2.25 ERA and allowed just one walk.  His command of the zone has notably improved – evidenced by multiple appearances without surrendering a walk – something he literally did not do last season.

While it’s certainly a small sample size and should be taken with a grain of salt, if Chatwood has figured it out, he could be a valuable asset to the team in as both a reliever and a spot starter. Personally, I’m not totally buying into Chatwood quite yet, but we could see a rejuvenated version of him that can provide much-needed flexibility to the Cubs pitching staff as a valuable swingman.

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