The first full week of spring training is over and the Cubs are already looking as hot as ever. Addison’s bat and the triple A players are sure making splashes. While the position players are settling in, we don’t see much of the pitchers for our Cubs. Spring training action is very minimal for pitchers as every pitch thrown in a year is a higher risk of injury. Especially with the older vets like Lackey and Lester, Maddon will preserve them like a fine wine. In this article, I am going to examine the starting rotation and three of the key bullpen players that we are going to see a hell of a lot this year.
- Jon Lester- Honestly, Kyle Hendricks, or Jake could probably be here. They are extremely close in stats if you compare the three, however I am giving Jon the nod to go first out of respect. The man is a playoff machine, he has consistently thrown like a left handed god, and other than his inability to pick a snail off first base, there is almost no pitcher that is as good as this ace material. He took a secondary role last year in respect to Jake’s outstanding 2015 campaign, but anyone will tell you the lefty earned his respective opening day role. Just an overall smart choice by Maddon.
- Jake Arrieta- Please make the case to me that you want to see someone else here. There is argument, yes, as Kyle had an outstanding year, but there is no pitcher on the Cubs that opposing teams fear as much as Arrieta. His wins and ERA were not what he achieved in his legendary Cy-Young 2015 season, but they were still in the top 25% of the league. Jake is an outstanding pitcher. People forget he started out as hot as he did in 2015 last year. Sure, he had his struggles throughout the season but everyone is human and the man won a ring didn’t he? In hindsight, you have to give Jake the ball in the second spot. The man is electric.
- Kyle Hendricks- Speaking of aces that aren’t first in MLB rotations, what the hell are you Kyle Hendricks?! The man doesn’t show emotion, doesn’t look like he even enjoys the sport. Heck, he probably doesn’t even smile during Christmas. Doesn’t bother me though, he gets the job done, and he does it efficiently. The Professor had the highest ground ball ratio out of any consistent starter in the MLB last year, so I’m giving the Cy-Young runner-up all the credit he deserves. Try to at least enjoy your ring Kyle.
- John Lackey- I can’t tell what John would be better at, bar fights or pitching. He just looks like the type of man that’ll beat the living hell out of anyone that looks his way. He plays like that too. Lackey stuck to straight cut, hard firing fastballs again and again last year. He dotted the corners and racked up strikeouts. He struggled pitching deep into games as the teams would catch up to his speed after a few times at the plate but he was definitely effective enough to man the fourth spot last year and I guarantee he can do it again.
- Mike Montgomery- This is where the picking gets hard. We lost Hammel to the Royals and with good reason, he threw great last year barring injury. God I hated Mike when we got him from the Marlins for Vogelbach last year. His first three outings he gave up 1 plus runs. It was awful. I don’t know if the adjustment was hard or what, but he found his way, and became the pitcher to record the final out of what the Cubs could not do in 108 years so… Thanks for that by the way Mike, you get like zero credit as the only thing people seem to notice was Kris’ smile during that play. Which did look really awesome, but, anyway, the guy can toss the ball, and he can toss it well. He is very much like Hendricks, he won’t fool you with his stuff, but his delivery and speed will keep hitters swingin’ and missin’.
I am going to keep the bullpen list short for now, but will come back to it right before the season.
- Wade Davis- Love or hate Chapman, he did his job. I hate to see the Cuban Missile go but we all knew he was literally a rental anyway. Theo did Theo though, and got us one of the next big things. Wade Davis is like a Kirkland brand Aroldis Chapman. He throws hard, has an outstanding sinker, and is gonna get a lot of saves. He closed for the Royals so let’s just assume the man knows how to win.
- Hector Rondon- Rondon is what every Cubs fan knows as a relief pitcher. It feels like he blows the game everyday, but when he gets those clutch moments, you forget all about every blown inning he ever had. The Point is that Rondon is in an important year as he needs to prove to other teams he can be a closer in this league, so look to our set-up man to be the best he has ever been. Hard, 99 mph fastballs and dirty change-ups are just about all he throws but he does it well.
- Carl Edwards Jr.- I was thinking about writing about Stroppy here, but that would literally be repeating Hector Rondon and adding in that he is a tad less good, so instead I’m going to talk about this skinny, featherweight class, bird-man that is Carl Jr. When you first saw him two years ago, you would have thought some kid won a contest to throw out a pitch in a major league game, but no, somehow this guy is one of the top relievers in MLB. No one actually knows how Carl does it, he doesn’t have speed, or a good curveball. He throws a really nice cut fastball but that’s honestly about it. Somehow he gets his outs, maybe its the “Angels in the outfield.” Regardless, I love this guy, he does his thing, and he does it well. Look to see Carl alot this year as a one to two inning middle reliever.
Its going to be a great year for our pitcher. Maybe even better than last year, if that can even happen. I know the bullpen definitely improved, the trick is staying healthy.
That’s all for the pitchers. Until next time, Go Cubs!
You can follow Matt Dewitte on Twitter: @matthewdewitte_