First Look: New Cubs Pitchers

In Uncategorized by myles103 Comments

Despite dmick's and my desire to go out and sign a Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb-caliber starting pitcher to round out the starting rotation (for which there are compelling reasons for and against), the rotation is pretty much set 1 through 5 for the upcoming 2018 season. The Cubs' signing of Steve Cishek and Brandon Morrow also seems to fill the bullpen. Breaking with longstanding OV tradition, let's take a look at those pitchers now, and not a month from now when our next post is due.

New Arrivals

Tyler Chatwood

2017: 147.2 IP, 4.94 FIP, 4.27 xFIP, 6.8% K-BB
Steamer 2018: 137 IP, 4.23 FIP

Chatwood was one of the very first pitchers off the board when free agency started. His spin rate is so elite that it elevated to meme status. Unfortunately for Tyler and the Cubs, spin rate isn't obviously correlative with results – if they were, Chatwood would have displayed much better results in his career. Chatwood has never pitched 160 innings or more in a season. All of that said, Chatwood is a Coors Field survivor, and his numbers (as with most pitchers) look much better if you take away the home pitching stats. One last thing to note about Chatwood is that he is unnaturally ill-suited to start given his through-order stats. Pitchers are usually worse every time they go through the order, but Chatwood has those splits to a pretty extreme degree. In a perfect world, Chatwood would have Mike Montgomery's role. Alas, that's Mike Montgomery's role.

Yu Darvish

2017: 186.2 IP, 3.83 FIP, 3.65 xFIP, 19.7 K-BB%
Steamer: 173 IP, 3.52 FIP

Yu Darvish is pretty great. It's not completely fair to wipe away his World Series performance, but I'm willing to overlook it given the evidence that he was tipping his pitches (one of the overlooked storylines this offseason is the push to try to eliminate sign stealing in baseball). One sort of sad stat is that Jake Arrieta had more fWAR in 2015 then Darvish had in 2015, 2016, and 2017 combined. That gives you a sense of the sort of injury problems Darvish has dealt with (and how freaking awesome Jake Arrieta was that year). One other interesting stat is that Darvish is an extreme flyball (and line drive) pitcher. Considering how amazing the Cubs' infield defense is, seems like a little bit of a waste. 

Steve Cishek

2017: 44.2 IP, 3.34 FIP, 3.66 xFIP, 15.5 K-BB%
Steamer: 65 IP, 4.01 FIP

Steve Cishek really outpitched his peripherals last year. That 3.34 FIP you see? Translated to a 2.01 ERA. The lesson of this post is that while ERA is slightly misleading for starters (because of sequencing more than anything else, but also leaving inherited runners), it's really misleading for relievers (because of sequencing AND inherited runners both coming in and going out). The narrative around Cishek is that he's in the prime of his career and ready to step into the closer's role the first time Morrow blows a save. The reality is that Cishek is a very good reliever starting the gentle downslope of his career. Cishek is definitely a capable 3rd-best arm out of the pen for a playoff team, which is the role he'll end up serving on this team should Slenderman get back a bit of his mojo.

Brandon Morrow

2017: 43.2 IP, 1.55 FIP, 2.94 xFIP, 24.1% K-BB
Steamer: 65 IP, 3.64 FIP

Brandon Morrow is going to close for the 2018 Cubs. Morrow has had a pretty interesting career – he broke into the league as a reliever, eventually made himself into a pretty good starter (I coveted him in 2010 and 2011), and injuries forced him back into the bullpen the last 4 years. He's re-discovered his ability to strike out a bunch of people and hardly ever gives out free passes. In 2018, he gave up a grand total of 0 HR in the regular season (and a grand total of 3 HR in the postseason). He pitched every single game of the 2017 World Series (with varying degrees of effectiveness). I worry that Morrow isn't going to do well with repeated uses, so I wouldn't at all be opposed to having 2 closers (the dreaded "closer by committee"). I also wonder if he'll be healthy for both seasons of his 2/$21 contract. I also wonder if Dillon Maples won't end up closing before the year is over, so take my wonders with a big degree of salt.

All in all, these 4 players will definitely play a big role (barring injury) for the 2018 Cubs. A #2 and #5 starter, a 7th inning and a 9th inning guy. $53 million has been invested in these 4 players in 2018, so it's pretty important that there be a return on this investment.

Current Pitching Staff

Kyle Hendricks
Yu Darvish
Jose Quintana
Jon Lester
Tyler Chatwood

Brandon Morrow
Carl Edwards, Jr.
Steve Cishek
Pedro Strop
Brian Duensing (edit: he lives)
Justin Grimm
Justin Wilson
Mike Montgomery

In waiting
Dillon Maples
Dario Alvarez

Prospects
Adbert Alzolay
Jose Albertos
Oscar De La Cruz

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Comments

  1. dmick89

    I saw something today about how the Cubs were still evaluating whether Monty would be a starter or a reliever. I didn’t read the article, but it could just have been the same kind of “Kyle Hendricks may not be in the rotation” nonsense that we saw prior to the 2016 season. I think a case could be made for Monty over Chatwood, but maybe that’s just because I think Chatwood kind of sucks.

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  2. Edwin

    Players in the NL West always have crazy home/road splits. 3/5 the parks are pitcher friendly in LA, SD, and SF, and the other 2/5 are hitter friendly in COL and Arizona.

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  3. Berselius is too lazy to login

    Wade Miley ——> Brewers

    Leave it to the Brewers to one-up the Cubs signing of Darvish. I guess it’s time for a fire sale.

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  4. Rizzo the Rat

    dmick89,

    I’d guess they’re pretty close. Both are groundball pitchers with ugly K/BB ratios. It might make more sense to have Monty in the pen to better take advantage of his left-handedness (or maybe piggy-backing the two would be the best option).

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  5. dmick89

    Rizzo the Rat,

    That’s a pretty good idea, but it’s one that we’ll never see. Sounds like Monty is fine with the bullpen, but he’ll probably get at least a handful of starts and probably more. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the two with their roles reversed by the end of the season.

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  6. dmick89

    berselius,

    I’m surprised that he did as well as he did. I don’t think he’s going to age well and it’s so late in the offseason. I’d have been skeptical about giving him $50 million. His WAR by year is frightening. 1.0, -1.7, 3.2, 0.0, 3.5, -0.1, 4.1. He’s a decent player who has only one really good season and has yet to prove he can play consistently. Considering the position and age, I’d have wanted the Cubs to pass even if they didn’t have a 1st baseman.

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  7. Berselius is too lazy to log in

    dmick89,

    Right, that’s his prediction of what he would get, not what he thinks Hosmer is actually worth. He doesn’t give a specific number, but it sounds like 4/80 is about as high as he would go, and that’s if you believe his upside.

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  8. GW

    So they Rays are giving away players in the middle of their arb years now to save money. Can’t we just move that team to Austin or Portland and be done with it?

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  9. dmick89

    GW,

    It’s been a long time since I lived in Portland, but they had a great minor league ballpark. That place was always packed. No way would both Houston and Texas agree to a third team in Texas so the best bet would be Portland or Las Vegas. Vegas is probably the most likely.

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  10. berselius

    (dying laughing), it looks like the Mets are doing the spadework to prep for a Tebow callup publicity stunt later this year.

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  11. Perkins

    So the Cubs’ slogan this year appears to be “Everybody in.”

    I see no way this could be taken wrongly or inappropriately.

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  12. Tyrone

    Sal Maiorana @salmaiorana
    Saw Bill Polian this morning. He said if #Bills cut or trade Tyrod and have Trevor Siemian on their radar, he’d be good with that.

    Apparently he also said the 6’3″ Lamar Jackson is too short to be an NFL QB and should just convert to WR now.

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  13. Tyrone

    Tyrone,

    Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
    Bill Polian said on ESPN’s NFL Live that, if he were the Eagles’ GM, he wouldn’t listen to any offers for Nick Foles unless they started with “two 1’s and two 2’s.”

    Someone take Bill’s mic away now.

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  14. SK

    Strangely enough, out of all the many famous Al quotes, none of them are listed. Only a couple of the more obscure–but still totally Alvinesque–ones.

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  15. dmick89

    “They’re so young, they don’t know they’re not supposed to be this good” is just some variation of a quote that about every announcer has said a hundred times too many.

    JD said something along those lines back in 2016. Something like “they’re so young, they don’t know they’re not supposed to win this much.”

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  16. SK

    dmick89,

    Yep. It does really sound like an announcer quote — maybe JD, maybe even Bob Brenly.

    /ashamed i had to reveal i’d googled Al for something in order to share the hilarious reality of Al being in a collection of famous quotes.

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  17. dmick89

    SK: Yep. It does really sound like an announcer quote — maybe JD, maybe even Bob Brenly.

    It’s one of those quotes that makes you sound smarter than you really are when you’re talking to an average fan or one who doesn’t follow the game much. Announcers are full of that shit. I like Len and JD, but both of them can say some really dumb things, but I think part of that is that they’re constantly talking. Even the best announcers say stupid shit about a quarter of the time. (dying laughing)

    I don’t watch the Olympics, but I can’t even imagine how much dumb shit is said about sports that almost nobody knows anything about.

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  18. GW

    2. Definition of Mound Visit. A manager or coach trip to the mound to meet with the pitcher shall constitute a visit. A player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher, including a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player, shall also constitute a mound visit, regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit, except that the following shall not constitute mound visits:
    A. Discussions between pitchers and position player(s) that (i) occur between batters in the normal course of play and do not require either the position player(s) or the pitcher to relocate;
    B. Visits by position players to the mound to clean spikes in rainy conditions;
    C. Visits to the mound due to an injury or potential injury of the pitcher; and
    D. Visits to the mound after the announcement of an offensive substitution.

    3. Cross-Up in Signs. In the event a team has exhausted its allotment of mound visits in a game (or extra inning) and the home plate umpire determines that the catcher and pitcher did not have a shared understanding of the location or type of pitch that had been signaled by the catcher (otherwise referred to as a “cross-up”), the home plate umpire may, upon request of the catcher, allow the catcher to make a brief mound visit. Any mound visit resulting from a cross-up prior to a team exhausting its allotted number of visits shall count against a team’s total number of allotted mound visits.

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  19. dmick89

    Perkins,

    Possible, but I’m guessing they just adjust. It’s not like there needs to be that many mound visits and 6 is still a lot. I don’t believe the number of mound visits was tracked prior to the upcoming season, but I’ll bet a sizable percentage of games were played with a maximum of 6 visits. My gut says that would be at least 25% of the games.

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  20. GW

    dmick89,

    I’m sure we will know soon. Someone will look at it.

    Do we really need any mound visits? An inning isn’t that long; if you really need to stop play, change the pitcher.

    Perkins,

    Bill James made a pretty good point about pace of play, which boiled down to: if you want shorter games, incentivize shorter games (paraphrasing). Provide incentives/penalties to teams that have shorter/longer game times, adjusted for the number of batters, etc… All the ideas currently floating around will be distortionary and only marginally effective.

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  21. Tyrone

    Aphukenbrake @Manthatsbruce
    @BryanBroaddus quick question. Has there ever been a team that’s taken their first round pick, and then came from out of the second back into the first to get another guy?

    The fuck kind of question is this? Uh, it happened last year, Einstein.

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  22. dmick89

    I’ve complained about pace of play before, but I think MLB is only making things worse by making this an issue every single offseason. My biggest complaints are mid-inning pitching changes and extra innings. Whatever MLB does they need to put this to rest.

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  23. dmick89

    GW: Do we really need any mound visits? An inning isn’t that long; if you really need to stop play, change the pitcher.

    Exactly. I’d have been fine if they limited non-pitching change mound visits to one or zero. One seems like too many to me.

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  24. Edwin

    dmick89,

    Sounds good to me. If Catchers and Pitchers get crossed up on signs, or if the pitcher gets rattled on the mound, that’s on them and they can deal with it.

    I’d love a rule that limits the number of pitching changes per inning, barring injury. Or the “forced to throw a set number of batters” idea. Mound visits, Pitching changes, and batters stepping out of the box are the biggest pace of play issues for me.

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  25. dmick89

    Edwin: Pitching changes, and batters stepping out of the box are the biggest pace of play issues for me.

    All those are really annoying and I don’t think pitching changes are as necessary as a lot of people do. Unfortunately, I don’t see that rule being changed. I also think the pace of play once you get to innings 7+ are a much bigger issue than people are talking about. Relievers take longer to throw pitches for some dumb reason even though many throw from the stretch. I hate games in which the first 6 innings fly by and the final 3 innings take as long as the first 6.

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  26. SK

    Cubs have become such bastards on the little things, like being transparent about how much tickets cost prior to them going on sale.

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  27. Berselius is too lazy to log in

    @Tyrone if you are ever in Phoenix hit up Little Miss BBQ. Probably as good as Franklins.

    Unrelated: currently in meat coma

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  28. dmick89

    Tyrone,

    I’d much rather the media promote the opinions of children than members of the military, intelligence community and pretty much anyone having anything to do with the current administration.

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  29. dmick89

    I’ve finally gotten around to start watching Lost (no spoilers). I figured if it’s half as good as Lindelof’s The Leftovers then it would probably end up in my top five favorite tv shows of all time. So far I’m loving it. I just finished the first season last night.

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  30. Perkins

    I mean, those kids are more mentally and emotionally mature than the president and much of his cabinet. Granted, that’s a low bar to clear, but people solicit those assholes’ opinions all the time. May as well talk to some kids about not wanting to get murdered.

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  31. JKV

    dmick89,

    We haven’t talked about shows in a while. Beyond the obvious GoT, Stranger Things, and Westworld, here’s some I’ve really liked:

    Drama
    Peaky Blinders
    Mr. Robot (1st season was the best)
    Fargo
    Black Mirror
    Ozark

    Comedy
    High Maintenance
    Crashing
    Broad City
    Rick & Morty (hyped up, but it’s really good)

    Just OK
    Atlanta
    Mindhunter

    For the love of God, don’t watch
    Mosaic

    There’s a ton of other bad TV my wife watches, but I haven’t given it a chance to actually confirm how bad it is.

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  32. Perkins

    JKV:
    dmick89,

    Rick & Morty (hyped up, but it’s really good)

    Rick and Morty is amazing, though a lot of the fans are somewhere between meatballs and assholes. Out of three seasons, there are maybe two or three episodes that aren’t outstanding, and those are still pretty good.

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  33. Wenningtons Gorilla Cock

    Edwin:
    They should just go ahead and cut Jeff Samardzija.No point even trying him as a starter.

    Keep watching. By Season 5, the producers really develop his character. Sadly, they wind up writing him off the show, but I hear he has a second career off-Broadway,

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