The Cubs stole the series opener from Milwaukee last night in exhilarating fashion, climbing back into first place in the process
While watching every pitch in June like it’s do or die is as bad for your health as a candy only diet, we’re all guilty of it. Games like these are what make sports fun, wins like last night are what make sports the absolute F***ing best. Regardless of how the next two days play out, the Cubs will be at worst tied in the lost column with the Brewers. That’s a pretty cool feeling.
The reason these next two games still feel so important isn’t about the standings as much as it is about who’ll be pitching for the Cubs.
This is the opportunity Mike Montgomery wanted: “What he's showing right now is how good he actually is” https://t.co/TdJUj0WjVo
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) June 9, 2018
After walking 7 more batters on Thursday, Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood has walked 56 batters in 58.1 innings this season, easily the highest walk total of any pitcher in the game. It's currently 17 more walks than the NEXT hurler. His walk rate is 20.7… https://t.co/EiakI3RXuC
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) June 7, 2018
Yu Darvish is scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but he still may be weeks away from a return. That should allow both Chatwood and Montgomery another 3-4 turns through the rotation before Darvish comes back and gives one of them the boot.
The results so far give us an easy answer. Despite Tyler Chatwood’s ERA, he’s literally walking a batter an inning. He’s walked five or more batters in eight out of his twelve starts while averaging less than five innings a start. Mike Montgomery on the other hand has allowed just two earned runs in 17.2 innings through three starts.
Throughout his career, Mike Montgomery has a lower BB%, lower WHIP and lower xFIP as a starter than as a reliever. Through 212.2 career innings as a starter, his ERA is 3.94. Combine all of those numbers with his elite groundball tendencies and you have a damn fine #5 starter.
The kicker is, there’s no bullpen for Tyler Chatwood, a guy with command issues that severe in the bullpen would be disastrous. There are no minor league options left for him, so he can’t go to Iowa to work things out. I applauded Theo for the 3 year- $38M contract given to Chatwood this offseason because all of the upside signs were there. Age, stuff, far worse numbers at home pitching in the arcade park that is Coors Field.
But so far it hasn’t been great, and the peripheral numbers suggest it will get worse before it gets better. Tyler Chatwood has the physical tools to clean up his mess and stay in the rotation, but if he keeps on walking one out of every five batters he faces while Montgomery keeps chugging out quality starts, we might be seeing a press release that reads “Tyler Chatwood to the DL with back spams” by the time Darvish is ready to return.