Chicago Cubs: Starting pitching must trump every other need

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

With how the 2021 season played out for the Chicago Cubs, there is no denying that several drastic changes need to be made, and it is anyone’s guess what happens this offseason. Needless to say, things should get interesting very soon on the North Side of Chicago, and the hope is that they piece together a solid ball club as soon as next year.

Yes, the Cubs have claimed to have money to spend this winter, but nothing is certain considering the different things we have heard thus far. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said it himself, the money is there to spend, and the team is ready to build a solid team. Sure, this sounds promising, but President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer also cautioned the club would spend ‘intelligently’.

While the latter is somewhat off-putting, there is a glimmer of hope. New GM Carter Hawkins has been introduced. Hawkins, coming from Cleveland, seems to want to make some moves behind the scenes. It might feel as if fans have been left in the dark, but hopefully, changes in the right areas are made, and the team is competent enough to contend next season. For this idea to become a reality, the team desperately needs to spend money on starting pitching this winter.

Chicago Cubs desperately need to revamp their entire starting rotation

Last season, Chicago’s most glaring weakness wasn’t difficult to diagnose: it was the starting pitching. The hope was something would change as the year went on, but we all know that did not happen. While there is potential in young Cubs southpaw Justin Steele, he needs to get used to throwing more pitches and going deeper into ballgames, or should just be relegated to the bullpen. The same goes for right-hander Keegan Thompson who had great potential and didn’t exactly live up to the hype because he couldn’t last more than three or four innings in starts.

Continuing on, Trevor Williams was traded away and Zach Davies struggled immensely in 2021 after a successful abbreviated 2020 season. It should be noted that 28-year-old Davies is headed for free agency and it seems very unlikely Chicago explores bringing him back. Even Cubs ‘ace’ Kyle Hendricks struggled in 2021, finishing with a 4.77 ERA. The bottom line is, a team cannot have success with a sub-par starting rotation.

Fortunately, the 2022 free agent class is rich with quality ballplayers at all positions, especially starting arms. Besides discussing how the money is there but will need to be spent carefully, Hoyer also expressed the team’s need for reliable, consistent starters. The likes of veteran Max Scherzer, Marcus Storman, Steven Matz or even Michael Wacha would make viable options in free agency this winter.

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Generally speaking, the Chicago Cubs have a flurry of decisions to make concerning the team’s future and the time to do it is now. Hopefully, the plan is to bring upon change, especially when it comes to the team’s starting rotation and the ball club does very soon.