The Chicago Cubs have a wide range of choices to fill their potential final rotation spot, but for as good as his 2019 was, Hyun-Jin Ryu should on that list.
The offseason is officially underway and with it comes speculation as to who the Chicago Cubs plan to sign to improve the team. This year, finding that final starting pitcher to complete the rotation will be of utmost importance for the team.
Theoretically, the Cubs don’t necessarily need an ace-quality pitcher given that Yu Darvish decided not to exercise his opt-out clause. They do, however, need a quality starter to compliment Darvish with some extra firepower, like a Zack Wheeler or, if they’re willing to spend big for that ace-quality arm, a Stephen Strasburg.
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Hyun-Jin Ryu may seem like a solid option as well, but I have serious doubts about him. He doesn’t really fit what the team needs, given that they already have a proficient soft-tosser in Kyle Hendricks.
The Cubs need to go in the direction of velocity without abandoning control entirely, and the open spot in the rotation offers a golden opportunity to do so. Jon Lester and Jose Quintana don’t exactly offer the kind of firepower the team should be focused on either.
Even past that, Ryu’s history of injuries makes him a questionable piece to go after. When Ryu is healthy, there’s no doubt he’s one of the best control guys in baseball, posting a league-leading 2.32 ERA in 2019, but he has missed significant time in the past for his health.
Ryu lost all of 2015 due to having surgery for his shoulder and most of 2016 for a combination of that surgery and yet another surgery for his elbow. Even as recent as 2018, Ryu only pitched 82 1/3 innings, indicating lingering health issues.
No doubt, the Cubs still have Darvish’s first lost season on their mind with Ryu as well as Brandon Morrow’s half-season of service despite being under contract for two years. It’s for that exact reason that Morrow’s option wasn’t picked up.
Signing Ryu would be a tremendous risk, but at least somewhat justified if he was the kind of pitcher the Chicago Cubs needed. Instead, he’s a veteran control pitcher that offers little difference from Lester, Hendricks, and Quintana while also potentially reminding the team of past lost seasons. Honestly, I’m not on board.