After a spot start on Thursday, Tyler Chatwood seems to be a better fit providing depth in the Chicago Cubs bullpen than starting in the rotation.
It was no secret that the Chicago Cubs planned to limit Tyler Chatwood’s work on Thursday given his lack of recent pitching outings and the long-awaited debut of pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay. And, while Chatwood’s performance left much to be desired, it was not near as messy as it could have been.
That being said, it still feels like Chatwood is more fit for the bullpen than for a starting job. Even with Kyle Hendricks out potentially until after the All-Star break, Chatwood would be better set as a depth piece in a bullpen that desperately needs him.
This season, Chatwood sits with an ERA of 3.60 in 35 innings pitched and a 5.17 FIP. Compared to fellow depth piece Mike Montgomery, Chatwood has easily been the most effective of the two long relievers (though Montgomery has a smaller body of work).
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All of this takes a backseat, however, to the fact that top pitching prospect Alzolay has finally arrived. With Hendricks on the IL, it makes sense to give Alzolay a crack at starting games while freeing up Chatwood to provide backup.
Cubs fans are also likely eager to see more of Alzolay, and it may be one of the few chances he gets to start for the big league club this year. His stellar debut – four innings pitched with five strikeouts and only one run allowed – makes it especially challenging to deny the man a start.
There is talk of the Chicago Cubs implementing a six-man rotation to accommodate both Alzolay and Chatwood in the rotation and, more importantly, to give each starter an extra day of rest. This still leaves the bullpen with few quality options until Kimbrel arrives or Strop figures everything out.
It’s simply a matter of giving a long-awaited prospect his chance to shine while keeping a somewhat reliable depth option open for Joe Maddon. Chatwood remaining in the bullpen allows Alzolay to step into the spotlight while keeping the wheels from flying off of the proverbial bullpen bus.