Cubs News: Starting rotation just keeps cruising 10 games into the season

Alec Mills / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Alec Mills / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Ten games in, it looks like this Cubs team has an unexpected strength.

We’ve always known this starting rotation has some experienced, talented arms in it. We’re talking about Jon Lester, who has three World Series rings to his name. Kyle Hendricks has started some of the biggest games in franchise history. Yu Darvish showed what he was capable late last year for the Cubs, when he went on a run that left us all scratching our heads.

But I don’t think anyone expected Chicago’s starting five to be one of the best in baseball. That’s exactly what this group has done, though. Soft-tossing right-hander Alec Mills put the finishing touch on the second pass through the rotation on Monday night, twirling seven shutout frames at Wrigley against the Royals.

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"“You’re really seeing a guy that can execute a game plan,” David Ross said of Mills after the game. “You see a guy that can change speeds. He’s not afraid to throw any pitch in any count. He’s got huge poise out there for such a young pitcher — we’ve known that about him for a while.”"

Two times through, Cubs starters lead all of Major League Baseball with a sterling 1.95 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and .156 opponent batting average. Their 60 cumulative innings pitched leads the Senior Circuit, as does their 2.10 BB/9.

Despite really just two arms with overpowering stuff in Darvish and Chatwood, this group has kept hitters off balance and has made up for a relief corps that’s struggled in the early going.

Ross and the Cubs have a big question to answer in the coming weeks, though. Left-hander Jose Quintana continues to work his way back from injury – and that injury is what led to Mills getting a spot in the starting rotation. I personally don’t see how you can push the young right-hander out of that spot given what he’s done at this point (1.38 ERA/ 5 H / 13 IP).

But either Quintana or Mills will have to slide into the swingman role when the former returns. Given the Cubs’ lack of quality left-hand options and the velocity concerns with Kyle Ryan, Quintana could be the perfect addition to a bullpen in desperate need of strike-throwers.

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We all knew what this offense could be – what we anticipated it would be. But nobody thought we’d be talking about a starting rotation that ranks at or near the top of the league in countless statistical measures 10 games into the year. The two paired together, though, has been a recipe for success – evidenced by the Cubs’ league-best 8-2 record heading into action Tuesday.