Chicago Cubs: End-of-season grades for key players from the 2021 team

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Kyle Hendricks / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: The starting rotation was the biggest weakness for the team

Kyle Hendricks: F

Arguably the biggest individual disappointment of 2021 was the season “The Professor” had. The crafty righty who consistently puts up excellent numbers finished 2021 with a career-worst 4.77 ERA, 4.89 FIP, 31 home runs given up and a 1.35 WHIP in 32 starts. Nobody in baseball gave up more hits than Hendricks (200). A 4.77 ERA and 4.89 FIP is normally not good, probably D range, but for a guy with a career 3.36 ERA, this called for an F. For the time being, we might have to give Hendricks the benefit of the doubt and call 2021 just a bad season until further notice.

Zach Davies: F

He never blew anyone away, but Davies had found ways to pitch efficiently throughout his career…except this season. His command was way off with an NL-leading 75 walks, which does not bode well for a guy who does not miss a lot of bats. He ended up with a career-worst 5.78 ERA, 5.45 FIP, 1.6 WHIP and 25 home runs given up in 32 starts. Davies’ career ERA jumped from 3.79 to 4.14 after this season.

Adbert Alzolay: C-

The stuff is there…which is why this was so frustrating. Alzolay features a plus fastball with a great slider. In his first full MLB season, he showed a ton of promise. He struck out 128 hitters in 125 2/3 innings and posted a 2.4 BB/9. Unfortunately the long ball was a major issue, surrendering 25 of them on the year. Alzolay was also prone to the, “One thing goes wrong and the whole thing falls apart” ailment some inexperienced pitchers deal with. Worth noting he posted a 1.40 ERA and 1.98 FIP in eight appearances (19 1/3 innings) out of the pen. Maybe he is better as a reliever? Regardless it’s too early to give up on him completely.

Alec Mills: C

$600K for a soft-tossing spot-starter, you get what you pay for. The nice thing about Mills is he can give you some nice starts even when the overall numbers “meh” at best. His outing against the White Sox in August was epic.

Jake Arrieta: F-

A disaster that cannot be put into words. Arrieta’s second-tenure as a Cub was the exact opposite of the Cy Young-winning, World Series hero he was from 2014-2016. Literally the worst starting pitcher in baseball. An ugly ending that hopefully will not tarnish his legacy in Chicago.

Trevor Williams: D

The 5.06 ERA is not good, nor the 10.4 H/9. At least he could miss some bats with 61 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings and the FIP was 4.53. Just “blah” overall, which is a shame because when he came up with the Pirates he showed a lot of promise. Plus the story with his dad was really cool. Hope he can figure it out wherever he ends up next year.