Shota Imanaga's 2024 projections suggest Cubs have another top of the rotation arm

Chicago Cubs pitcher Shota Imanaga's 2024 projections reveal a No. 2 starter capable of pitching like an ace. Find out more!

Chicago Cubs Introduce Shōta Imanaga
Chicago Cubs Introduce Shōta Imanaga / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages
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Most projections for Chicago Cubs pitcher Shota Imanaga have slotted the Japanese starting pitcher to a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher as opposed to an ace and that has fueled speculation that the Cubs may still be looking for additions to their rotation.

That doesn't mean that the Cubs are ready to shell out the $200MM that it would likely cost to sign reigning National League Cy Young Blake Snell but may be willing to get involved in trade talks for Dylan Cease or Shane Bieber.

It's likely that the Cubs are operating with the sense that if the right deal comes around, in terms of upgrading their starting rotation, they will pull the trigger on the move but it shouldn't be viewed as a move that the team must make before the start of Spring Training.

Their reasoning for that may be due to their projections being similar to what FanGraphs has forecasted for Imanaga in 2024. Imanaga's 2024 projections were one of the main takeaways of the Cubs' ZiPS projections for this season.

"This section looks a lot sunnier than it did last week! Shōta Imanaga is my favorite signing of this offseason and I think it’s probably the computer’s favorite as well (ZiPS utilizes DeltaGraphs stats for NPB players). I suspect some teams are going to kick themselves that the Cubs got Imanaga this cheaply"

FanGraphs

While their system projects Justin Steele to have more starts than Imanaga in 2024, the rookie pitcher is projected to have a better season. Imanaga is projected to have a 3.55 ERA, 117 ERA+, in 137 innings pitched.

While those projections won't place Imanaga in the category of being an ace of a Major League rotation, they will place him as a No. 2 starter capable of pitching like an ace for a stretch of games throughout the season. Coupling that with more consistency Jameson Taillon and the looming debut of pitching prospect Cade Horton, and it's becoming clear why starting pitching is not a major need for the Cubs.

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