5 positive Cubs takeaways – #2: Starting rotation dominates in second half
Moving on to the real meat and potatoes here, the next two takeaways on the list are the key reasons the Cubs have seemingly become willing to spend sooner rather than later. The first being the incredible starting pitching we’ve seen from the Cubs here in the second half. Let’s face it. Pitching wins games (and championships). Yes, you need to score runs and play defense – of course. However, you simply aren’t going to get very far in this league without consistent pitching.
Post All-Star break, the Cubs are currently third in the NL in team ERA behind two division leaders, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves. A huge proponent of that has been guys already in the future plans of the team and even more so now. At a quick glance, let’s go over a few guy’s second half stats who figure to play a role on the North Side moving forward.
- Justin Steele – 0.98 ERA, 36.2 IP
- Marcus Stroman – 2.71 ERA, 83 IP
- Hayden Wesneski – 2.18 ERA, 33 IP
- Drew Smyly – 2.83 ERA, 57.1 IP
- Adrian Sampson – 2.99 ERA, 69.1 IP
Honorable mention here would be Keegan Thompson who, over the course of the entire season, notched an ERA of 1.06 as a bulk reliever in 34 innings pitched. I’m more than happy pegging Steele, Stroman and Wesneski as a 2-4 and having some form of Adrian Sampson followed by Thompson in relief once Sampson’s day is done in the five-spot of the rotation. The #1 spot in the rotation will hopefully be addressed this coming offseason via free agency or potentially even by trade.
Aside from that, The Cubs still need to figure out what to do with Kyle Hendricks and Drew Smyly. Smyly is the only one on that list that doesn’t seem as much of a lock to be around past 2022. When it comes to Smyly and Sampson, it’s a tricky road to navigate. Sampson is younger and cheaper, but having a veteran presence (who loves pitching for the Cubs) in Smyly isn’t a bad path to tread, either.
Complicating matters even further, we also have to keep in mind that guys like Caleb Kilian and Javier Assad are one fine tune-up away from deserving regular big league time in their own right. Needless to say, the starting pitching has been the back bone of the Cubs’ strong second half. If the Cubs manage to land a true ace, this staff has all the makings of something special.