Chicago Cubs: the land of misfit toys

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 25: Albert Almora Jr. #5 and Ian Happ #8 of the Chicago Cubs jog off the field in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field on July 25, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 25: Albert Almora Jr. #5 and Ian Happ #8 of the Chicago Cubs jog off the field in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field on July 25, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Tyler Chatwood: It’s his turn to replace Hamels. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Tyler Chatwood: It’s his turn to replace Hamels. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: The Land of Misfit Toys

Tyler Chatwood

The departure of Castellanos doesn’t affect the pitching staff. But the winter lack of activity has made it increasingly clear that the Chicago Cubs intend to give Tyler Chatwood first dibs on succeeding Cole Hamels in the rotation.

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Chatwood was the guy the Cubs signed to a three-year, $38 million deal prior to the 2018 season. Two years into that deal, Chatwood has delivered just a 9-9 record in 25 starts, in the process walking 132 batters. His 2018 season – 4-6, 5.30 with a league-high 95 walks in just 104 innings – went so badly that the team sentenced him to the bullpen for most of last season.

There is irony in Chatwood’s opportunity to replace Hamels since it was Hamels the Cubs acquired in mid-season 2018 when they gave up on the idea of Chatwood as a starter.

The reality is that the Cubs’ rotation options are limited. Aside from Cotton, they can turn to a pair of rookies, Alec Mills and/or Adbert Alzolay. Both got a brief taste of major league life last year.

Mills made nine appearances including four starts and looked good in that limited duty. Obtained from the Royals in early 2017, he compiled a 2.75 ERA and won his only decision, a two-inning September relief stint against the Reds.

Alzolay, at 24 three years younger than Mills, is viewed as having a stronger arm and greater potential. But he did nothing remarkable in the minors in 2019 and got bashed in his handful of big-league appearances.

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He pitched four times, two of them starts, in one of which he allowed the last-place Pirates seven earned runs in less than three innings.