This summer’s trade deadline is poised to be a perfect storm, with a mashed up jumble of teams looking for that difference-maker on the trade market crashing into a list of injured starting pitchers that seem to be growing by the day. That could be bad news for the Chicago Cubs.
Heading into Tuesday night’s matchup with the New York Mets, Cubs starters rank 20th in MLB in ERA (4.55), 19th in innings pitched and 23rd in both opponent batting average and hits allowed. No Cubs starter with more than 10 starts on the year has an earned run average below 4.00 – although recent trends with Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies are promising.
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All this to say Chicago has no choice: they must add at least one (and likely multiple) starting pitchers before the end of July. Which brings us back to the aforementioned problem. A lot of pitchers who fall into the category of speculative trade bait have fallen victim to injury lately.
The latest to hit the shelf? Detroit Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd, who was placed on the 10-day IL with an elbow-related injury on Tuesday. He’d looked good this year, exceeding expectations with a 3.44 ERA/3.73 FIP in 13 starts. Given the Tigers are still rebuilding, this was their chance to trade Boyd – now we’ll have to wait and see if they have the chance.
This year, as expected coming off the shortened 2020 campaign, it at least feels like there have been more injuries than normal. Of course, it’s entirely possible my viewpoint is biased given the merry-go-round… or rather double-decker bus, that’s been holding all the injured Cubs at virtually every turn this year.
Chicago Cubs might balk if asking prices climb too high
Between the injuries (which Chicago isn’t alone in suffering) and the lack of separation in the majority of the divisions in baseball, there’s going to be a feeding frenzy for rental pitching over the next six weeks. Again, that means higher asking prices – and it’s worth wondering whether or not, barring putting some breathing room between themselves and the rest of the NL Central – Jed Hoyer and the Cubs will be willing to meet.
A Scherzer blockbuster would obviously represent the most ‘push your chips in’ move Chicago could make this summer. It’s what they need. They don’t have an ace right now and it shows. This team desperately needs to shore up the rotation – but given the injuries and the competition they’ll face for available arms, it’s a tall task, to say the least.