Chicago Cubs: 2014 1st round – No.4 overall SP Aaron Nola
The first round of the 2014 draft is one of those rounds you can shift around quite a bit. There was a ton of talented pitching coming into that class. Holding the fourth overall pick that year, Epstein chose to forgo the starting pitching instead, selecting catcher Kyle Schwarber.
To Schwarber’s credit, he was a hybrid player with his central position being a catcher. Catchers are challenging to come by in this game, and so when you have a good one *cough* Willson Contreras, it is crucial never to let them go.
Both Aaron Nola and Schwarber made their respective debuts in 2015, and both had solid first years. Nola finished with a 3.59 ERA in 13 starts, and Schwarber hit 16 bombs in 69 games. Disappointingly, Schwarber missed all of 2016 with a torn ACL. He has, however, worked himself back into a productive player – putting up some big-time numbers this season.
Nola, meanwhile, has carried a 3.23 ERA over his past three seasons. To imagine a world with Nola in your rotation instead of John Lackey or Dan Haren is a world I want to be a part of. A rotation in 2016 of Stroman, Hendricks, Arrieta, Lester, and Nola would have been just fine by me. Sorry, Mr. Schwarber.