2 Cubs players who won't be better in 2023: #1 - Brandon Hughes
Brandon Hughes emerged as the team's go-to lefty down the stretch in 2022, appearing in 57 games and finishing off 16. With a complete lack of southpaw options in tow right now (the Cubs will almost certainly add one before pitchers and catchers report), he figures to be a key contributor again in 2023.
I just don't know that I'm buying him replicating his 2022 performance: he worked to a 3.12 ERA while averaging more than 10.5 strikeouts per nine. At surface level, my questioning him may seem a bit odd, but FIP (4.64), a barrel rate that ranked in the bottom four percent of the league and a sub-par walk rate all suggest there's room for a downturn this year.
A .233 BABIP last year certainly didn't hurt Hughes - and I suspect we'll see something closer to league average in 2023. Again, I'm not saying he's not going to play a role because I think he's going to be your middle-innings lefty if you're David Ross, but there are enough red flags to make me hope and pray that Andrew Chafin or Matt Moore are close to joining the ranks.