Cubs pitcher Tyler Chatwood returned Tuesday – and left plenty to be desired.
Early this season, it looked as if Tyler Chatwood had finally figured out how to channel his elite stuff and become an impactful presence in the Cubs rotation. After a rocky outing against Kansas City, he hit the shelf with back issues and, on Tuesday, made his return to the mound.
It did not go well.
The 30-year-old faced just 12 Detroit hitters, walking five and allowing three hits. He threw less than half of his 55 pitches for strikes. For Cubs fans who watched him lead the league in walks in his first year in Chicago back in 2018, it was an uncomfortable outing to watch.
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"“I thought he was just searching for his rhythm,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “It looked like he was amped up to be back out there, a little quick off his back side, I thought. A little bit rushing.”"
Whatever the reason, Chatwood’s lackluster showings in each of his last two starts adds further uncertainty to a rotation that opened the year in historic fashion. Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish, the latter of whom has emerged as a legitimate Cy Young contender, continue to anchor the staff.
Alec Mills has been up and down, but serviceable at the back end of the rotation and Jon Lester kind of falls in the same boat. After allowing just two earned runs in his first three starts, the veteran southpaw has been tagged for a staggering 13 runs in his last two outings – including a forgettable showing against the White Sox over the weekend.
"“The last start I felt I threw the ball better than what the line score showed,” Lester told the Chicago Tribune after the game. “This one I can’t run from the line score. This was terrible.”"
With Lester searching for answers and now Chatwood with back-to-back clunkers, the importance of Jose Quintana only grows. The left-hander made his first appearance of the year on Tuesday in relief of Chatwood, looking like a steady presence for three frames before it all went sideways in the sixth when the Tigers blew things wide open.
Of course, in the weeks leading up to his return, speculation over whether he’d start or come out of the pen ran rampant. Folks seemed to lean heavily in the bullpen direction given the relief corps’ struggles, but now with the rotation faltering, a return to the rotation could be in the cards for the Chicago lefty.
"“I want to start games. And I want to help my team. That’s all I want,” Quintana said. “That’s the reason we’re here. And get results. It’s not about one or two good innings. It’s getting results. We need to win. And that’s what I want to do."