Cubs: Trevor Williams could be a pleasant surprise in the rotation

Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images /

The Chicago Cubs starting rotation looks incredibly different than it did last year. Tyler Chatwood, Jon Lester and Jose Quintana all signed with other teams in free agency and Yu Darvish was traded to the San Diego Padres in December. With those four gone, the only remaining starters from the abbreviated 2020 season’s rotation are Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks and righty Alec Mills.

Throughout the offseason, the Cubs did a great job of bringing in arms to add to the rotation. The team acquired veteran starter Zach Davies from San Diego in the Darvish trade. Additionally, they brought former Cub Jake Arrieta back and signed former Pittsburgh Pirate Trevor Williams. Williams, 28, was signed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. In the long run, this short-term, low-cost deal with could benefit the Chicago Cubs.

Cubs hoping Trevor Williams can return to his 2018 form

Before signing this contract with Chicago, Williams was designated for assignment for the Pirates on Nov. 20 when the team needed to make room on the 40-man roster for those incoming via the Rule 5 Draft. Williams spent five years with the Pirates – the entirety of his MLB career to this point.

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During his time there, he went 31-37, posting a 4.43 ERA in a total of 106 big league outings. Though Williams had down years in 2019 and 2020, he had a relatively respectable 2018 season. It was arguably the best of his career. In 2018, Williams won 14 games and posted a 3.11 ERA across 31 starts. Additionally, he logged a 1.29 ERA in the final 13 games of that season.

While expectations were high for Williams after 2018 going into 2019, he did not hit them, to say the least. In 2019, Williams went 7-9, posting a 5.38 ERA in a total of 26 games pitched. Following that season, the hope was that Williams would bounce back. However, this was not the case. In 2020, Williams posted went 2-8, posting a 6.18 ERA in a total of 11 starts.

When looking at the 2020 season, it should be noted that the abbreviated season brought on different challenges and is not representative of a typical season. The fact that Williams did not bounce back last year could be attributed to various factors, but 2021 will be a (somewhat) normal season – and one Chicago is banking on a bounceback showing from Williams in.

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If nothing else, Chicago acquiring Williams ensures rotation depth. Along with that, If the right-hander can return to the pitcher he was in 2018, he would even wind up boosting the North Siders’ starting rotation. Hopefully, this guy can find his groove on the north side of Chicago and returns to his 2018 ways this time around.