The Chicago Cubs are somehow once again in the mix of teams looking for starting pitching. While new starters are exciting, this is only bad news for Cubs’ fans.
Some things don’t change. The Chicago Cubs’ mid-July hunt for starting pitching is becoming as routine as fireworks on the fourth. But this time around it’s not nearly as exciting as lighting up the sky bright enough to play baseball at night.
The Cubs are back in the market through a series of misfortunes. Their offseason acquisition of Tyler Chatwood appears to be a doomed experiment and no one knows when Yu Darvish will be on the mound again. Thus, the Cubs are right back to where they were a year ago: Looking for starting pitching.
I don’t see any reason the Cubs would be considering adding another starter if Darvish is still expected back at the end of the month. With the way Mike Montgomery has been throwing, he definitely appears to be a dependable replacement for Tyler Chatwood. Lester, Hendricks, Darvish, Quintana and Montgomery could be one of the best rotations in the league.
That tells me the Cubs’ front office might be more worried about Yu Darvish’s health than they’re letting on. There have been some teases of his return followed by some setbacks and it doesn’t look good. Combine that with their apparent hunt for a new starter and the whole thing looks a little fishy.
So if the Chicago Cubs do need to add a starter, where should they look?
There’s a pitcher out there with veteran experience. He’s known for eating innings and showing up in high leverage situations. It could be just what the Cubs need and his name is… John Lackey.
John Lackey pitched for the Cubs in 2016 and 2017. He’s currently a free agent and expressed intent to pitch in 2018 in the offseason. And the best part about Lackey is he’ll cost basically nothing. Other pitchers available will cost at least prospects and at most MLB talent. Lackey just costs money, which the Cubs have plenty of.
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Lackey is far from the sexiest solution, but it’s certainly a possibility they sign him for the rest of the season. It also is a way for the Cubs to concede their uncertainties of Darvish’s health this season without admitting they’re concerned about him beyond that.
The trade options
A more realistic antidote to the Cubs’ rotation woes might be someone like J.A. Happ. Happ’s 4.44 season ERA isn’t incredibly appealing, but he’s shown he can pitch much better than that in recent years. He’ll also be a free agent at the conclusion of the season so he likely won’t cost anything from the MLB roster.
If the Chicago Cubs are really, really concerned about Darvish’s long-term health, they might have to make a big splash. They would need to find someone that could be what we expected Yu Darvish to be and that is not cheap. They’d have to make guys like Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber available to even get on the phone for those types of conversations.
Ideally, good news about Darvish’s health will start coming out and the Cubs will be able to keep quiet at the deadline. But if that concern mounts, the Cubs will have some tough decisions in the coming weeks.