Chicago Cubs: Tommy Hottovy will have a lot on his plate in 2020

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy has a lot of work to do leading up to the 2020 campaign if the club hopes to field a competitive staff next year.

There is no denying Chicago Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy made the most out of his first year on the north side of Chicago. Hottovy, 38, had a short-lived pitching career and was drafted in the fourth round by the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and ended up playing with the Kansas City Royals, the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays briefly.

During his time with the Royals, Hottovy noticed the severe disconnect between the front office and the players within teams across the league. He used this as motivation to learn more about the technology and analytics within baseball operations departments and honed these skills to the best of his ability. His career on the field began with the Chicago Cubs, where he was hired as the team’s run prevention coordinator in 2014, a role he held until 2018.

In December of that year, Chicago named Hottovy as their new pitching coach under former manager Joe Maddon. He became the youngest pitching coach in the league at just 37 years of age. During 2019, Hottovy left a positive impact on the Chicago Cubs’ pitching staff. Pitchers including Yu Darvish, Brandon Kintzler and many others are prime examples of Hottovy’s success in his new role.

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From the first half of the 2019 season to the second half, Darvish dramatically changed for the better. Darvish ended the first half of 2019 with a 5.01 ERA in 18 starts and 97 innings pitched.

However, the tables turned in the second half, as Darvish ended with a 2.76 ERA in 13 starts over 81 ⅔ innings pitched. It should be noted that Darvish also ended with 118 strikeouts. A transformation with this brevity wouldn’t have been possible without Hottovy and his expertise.

A similar transformation was seen with Kintzler in the bullpen. Coming off an wildly unsuccessful 2018, the right-hander was brought back and miraculously made the Opening Day roster. He finally adapted to pitching with the Cubs and the former All-Star in him shone through. Before the All-Star Break, Kintzler owned a stellar 1.98 ERA. In the second half his ERA rose to 3.92 but that could be attributed to injuries he faced at the end of the season.

Kintzler ended the season with a 2.68 ERA which was a major improvement for years prior and publically attributed his success to Hottovy. Looking onward to 2020, Hottovy is going to have his work cut out for him. The Cubs are set to open the 2020 season with Kyle Hendricks, Darvish, Jon Lester and Jose Quintana set in the starting rotation. Without Cole Hamels, the fifth spot is still up for grabs.

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As for the bullpen, there are both old and new faces alike that’ll need a dose of Hottovy’s expertise. After all, the bullpen was one of the biggest downfalls of the Cubs’ 2019 run. Through the use of analytics, new technology and an abundance of communication, hopefully Hottovy can whip the 2020 Cubs’ starting rotations and bullpens into shape so the team can compete in 2020.