It happened, the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series! Next step? Win it again. With 2016 behind them, Theo Epstein and his executives have some work to do this offseason particularly with pitching with the probable departures of Jason Hammel and Aroldis Chapman. With the free agent field lacking any noteworthy starting pitchers, the Cubs may have to dig into their system or free agency to find that 5th starter to replace Jason Hammel and a new closer. Here’s the way-too-early 2017 Cubs starting pitching predictions.
- Jon Lester
- Kyle Hendricks
- Jake Arrieta
- John Lackey
- Mike Montgomery
Joe Maddon has expressed his positivity about Mike Montgomery and thinks that he could be a successful starting pitcher in the MLB. When Montgomery became a Cub in July, his curveball was described as “erratic” and it was something Chris Bosio and the rest of the coaching staff wanted to work on with him. As 2016 progressed, Montgomery started to use his curveball a lot more and he got more comfortable with it as the year went on. If Montgomery can perfect his curveball this offseason and fix a few tweaks in his mechanics to allow him to throw for an extended amount of innings, we will more than likely see Mike Montgomery starting a lot of games for the Cubs next year. There have been a few names from free agency that have been thrown around for the Cubs such as Edinson Volquez and Brett Anderson. Edinson Volquez has been considered somewhat of a clubhouse cancer, but if any team can manage his attitude it’s the happy, friendly, Cubs. Brett Anderson’s stature, 6’ 4” 215 pounds, is appealing to any team in need of a new pitcher, but his velocity and stamina just isn’t there to be considered a quality number 5.
Aside from free agency, the Cubs have a potent pitching prospect in 20-year-old Dylan Cease. Cease is the #1 pitching prospect in the Cub’s organization and is #97 in the MLB’s top 100 prospects list. The 6’ 2” 190 pound righty had a successful season with the Eugene Emeralds, the Cubs short season Class A affiliate team, posting a 2.22 ERA in 44.2 innings of work. Cease is young and hasn’t experienced enough of the minor league level to be on the MLB roster opening day, but don’t be surprised to see him work his way up in the organization as the 2017 season progresses. As for the top half of the rotation, Jon Lester is definitely their #1 in 2017 after he showed the Cubs that he’s worth that $150 million they signed him for two years ago by posing a 2.44 E.R.A. (second in majors) and had a fantastic postseason. As for the two and three spots, it can go either way between Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks shined last year after recording the best E.R.A. in the MLB with a 2.13. More importantly, Hendricks had a productive postseason and looked like a veteran when he stepped on the mound in game 6 against the Dodgers and game 7 of the World Series.
Kyle Hendricks gained some serious postseason experience and will now be put on the pedestal of one of the best pitchers in the game. As for Arrieta, he proved at many times this year and postseason that he is still elite. He finished tied with Corey Kluber for the second most wins in the MLB and recorded two key road wins in the world series. I think Kyle Hendricks has the edge in this one over Arrieta but it really doesn’t matter given how many times the rotation is going to get moved around. Whoever the #3 is from this rotation, you got to expect that they will be considered the best #3 pitcher in the pros. John Lackey will be towards the bottom of this stacked rotation, and his experience and competitiveness will greatly benefit this team.
The Cubs boast one of the most talented starting rotations in the MLB and that’s especially because they have three guys who could easily be a number one starter on a lot of other teams in the league. The Cubs rotation isn’t getting any younger, but their experience and veteranship will keep the Cubs atop the World Series favorites for at least the next couple of years.