Chicago Cubs: Who has the edge when it comes to pitching?
The story for both the Dodgers and the Cubs starts with the pitching rotation. For Los Angeles, it’s future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Buehler, Hyun Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda. The Cubs counter with Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana and Cole Hamels.
However, Hill, Ryu and Hamels are all free agents this winter, so both squads have an arm (or arms) to replace. The Dodgers may be in better position to replace Hill with Ross Stripling who has started before – not to mention some of their young arms. For the Cubs, Tyler Chatwood is an option, but the last time he started was not pretty. Plus, the right-hander was pretty good as a swing reliever this season and the new manager may want to keep him there.
Dustin May is another option for the Dodgers to get a spot in the rotation. They may go in-house with May and Stripling to fill the spots or go hard after Gerrit Cole to anchor the rotation. Los Angeles is getting desperate for a World Series, Cole is from California and that may be the route they go.
Early reports say the Cubs may be involved in the Gerrit Cole bidding as well, as every team should, so that’s something to watch. If either team gets Cole that may push them ahead of the other.
Both bullpens leave much to be desired. Craig Kimbrel was flat-out bad after being a midseason acquistion. Kenley Jansen blew eight saves and has given up 22 home runs over the last seasons as a closer. He is 32, however, so it’s a question of how many bullets he has left moving forward, as he is still under contract through 2021, unless he exercises his player opt-out this winter.
Pedro Strop had his worst year as a Cub, Brandon Morrow didn’t throw a pitch, Steve Cishek was hurt for part of the year, and there was nobody who could be relied on to finish a game. The Dodgers have had problems getting to Jansen in the past, but they had the second best bullpen ERA in the National League in 2019.
Los Angeles has fewer bullpen questions heading into 2020, with Joe Kelly, Adam Kolarek, Stripling, (pending the decision with the rotation) Julio Urias and Caleb Ferguson all locked into bullpen spots as of right now. The Cubs have maybe three guys locked into a bullpen spot with the Rowan Wick/Brad Wieck combo and possibly breakout star Kyle Ryan.
Both pitching staffs have questions, the Dodgers may have fewer, but both rotations seem pretty set in stone with plenty options to fill the holes.