Cubs got Tyler Chatwood at his best on Sunday against the Brewers

Tyler Chatwood / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Tyler Chatwood / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Tyler Chatwood pitched like an ace for the Cubs on Sunday – and could be a key.

There’s no doubt – there are more than a few questions when it comes to the Cubs pitching staff. The team opened the season without left-hander Jose Quintana and it’s unlikely he’s ready for at least a few more weeks. That’s led to Alec Mills rounding out the starting rotation and stretching an already unproven bullpen.

David Ross turned his share of heads when he announced that after his two horses in Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish, he’d be tapping Tyler Chatwood as his third starter. This allowed the Cubs to open up the four-game road trip in Cincinnati on Monday behind veteran lefty Jon Lester. Still, given his struggles during his time in the Windy City, it was a bold decision.

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But Chatwood was up for the challenge – and then some.

He didn’t just hold his own against Milwaukee in Sunday’s rubber match. Chatwood pitched like an ace, showcasing overpowering velocity and unhittable movement, especially with his cutter in on left-handed hitters, including Christian Yelich, and his staple sinker.

"“You saw those hitters off-balance a lot,” Ross told, “not knowing which lane to choose, because it was going both ways off that tunnel.”"

The righty tossed six innings of three-hit ball, striking out eight and walking just a pair. The Brewers didn’t even break into the hit column until there were two outs in the fifth – a telling sign as to just how well he was spotting the ball Sunday.

Chatwood, who lost his spot in the starting rotation after a dismal 2018, looked to figure some things out with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy late last year. The numbers certainly suggest some pretty impactful tweaks from the 30-year-old hurler.

Thanks to Chatwood and a middle-innings offensive explosion from the offense, the Cubs hit the road with their first series win of the year under their belt. Of course, playing at home, where the team has been working out for a month is vastly different than playing anywhere else. But Chicago set themselves up well by taking care of business Sunday at the Confines.

Now, it’s up to Lester to keep it rolling. Hendricks, Darvish and Chatwood combined for 19 innings of 1.89 ERA ball. That figure comes despite Darvish’s so-so outing on Saturday and really speaks to the quality of starts turned in by the other two guys.

Next. Cubs could come out as big winners in expanded postseason. dark

The Chicago starting rotation is almost universally viewed with at least some degree of skepticism. But as the Cubs hit the road for a big showdown with the reloaded Reds, we’re all feeling a bit better – thanks largely to the efforts of Tyler Chatwood.