Health Will Give Them A Chance
Jake Arrieta needs to stay healthy. Yes, I know that is mind-blowing information but the Cubs are relying on a pitcher that has never logged anything close to 200 innings. He came off a shoulder injury last year that shortened his fine season but it was just that…shortened. I’ve always been under the assumption that I’d rather have 5 healthy “good” starters for a whole season than have “potential” guys mixed in with “average” guys. Potential and average rarely mix well. Jake showed everyone why he was a touted prospect for so long. Now show us you can do it again and do it again for 30 starts.
Jon Lester should be good for 190+ innings and I’ll leave it to the experts to predict how many wins his team gets from his starts. I’d like to calm expectations surrounding having a legit #1 starter this year but there is some type of excitement around the Cubs’ big boy club that I’ll just hope he’s healthy for 190+ innings. With him everything else should just fall into place. He’s a classy veteran at the top of the rotation with the track record of a champion.
Jason Hammel struggled mightily after his trade last season to the A’s. Sometimes things just don’t work out. His walk rate went up and his FIP was around double than his time with the Cubs. Again, sometimes things just don’t work out. He’s back in the comfy comfines and should be back around his 3.75 ERA rather than is sub 3.00 when he was traded. My only hope is he can get himself righted and give the Cubs around 175 innings. This will go a long way into whether the Cubs are contenders or hanging on for one more year for the prospects to develop.
Kyle Hendricks pitching like last year would be a wonderful thing. If he can sustain a 14-4 season and pitch around a 2.50 ERA things will be looking great. Those would be about what his numbers would have projected out if doubled last season (I added a few earned runs because I feel it was needed). If those look like numbers of a #4 starter than you should start looking for your seat on Michigan Avenue in November now. Kyle will come back down to earth but, a healthy 175+ innings is what I want to see. With his just okay stuff, his change up people seem to always swing over and his heady approach to the game make for a fun time watching hitters frustrated that they “just missed that one.” He’s fun to watch but his margin for error is limited.
If you take into consideration that your #5 starter doesn’t need to log a ton of innings but needs to keep his team in games and give them a chance to win then Tsuyoshi Wada is your guy. He gets more out of his stuff than Travis Wood and/or Edwin Jackson. However, he doesn’t have the stuff of Jackson but he also doesn’t have the two years of bad as Edwin. This position just needs to keep games within reach for the bats or defense to come around. Give me a solid 160+ innings and an ERA around 4.00 out of this spot and I’ll be happy. It should be interesting how this plays out.
I’m not asking for much. I’m just asking for 5 guys to stay healthy to give them a chance.
(A big thank you to Sam for allowing me to contribute to the Ivy Drip this season. I’m a local product looking to have some fun and share some knowledge about the Cubs and this great game of baseball – Ray Napientek)