Chicago Cubs: Three things the 2020 ZiPS predictions will get wrong
Chicago Cubs: The fifth starter spot won’t be that bad
One of the most exciting battles coming into spring training for the Cubs in 2020 will be the fifth starting rotation spot. It appears that Tyler Chatwood and Alec Mills are two of the top candidates. The 30-year-old Chatwood had a nice 2019 in swing duty, posting a 3.76 ERA after a miserable 2018. Alec Mills, meanwhile, showed some potential down the stretch as a possible fifth starter or bullpen arm.
ZiPS isn’t high on either of these two. At one point, the article reads, “The fifth starter position is a concern, one the Cubs have done little to address. Tyler Chatwood is a walking heartburn machine, and Alec Mills isn’t likely to be any better.”
Chatwood is projected to regress significantly. After making five starts in 2019, ZiPS has him at 14 starts (30 games total) in 2020 with a 4.50 ERA. Again, this is “in the middle” between his 2018 and 2019 numbers, but I think if used correctly that Chatwood will be closer to 2019 in 2020.
What I don’t understand is the weak outlook on Mills; after posting a 2.75 ERA in 36 innings in 2019, ZiPS has him at 4.88 ERA over a full season. This includes 125 innings and 21 starts. I just don’t think there’s enough of a track record with Mills to suggest that his ERA will be that high. It very well could be, but I think if given a chance, that Mills will do better than that either as a fifth starter or out of the bullpen.
Of course, there are other options; Jharel Cotton is another guy who will get a look for the fifth spot. I think there are enough options for a competition that the fifth spot won’t be as bad as FanGraphs is making it sound.