The Chicago Cubs are coming off a much deserved World Series championship in 2016. Now they are set to enter the 2017 MLB season with high hopes. In terms of their starting rotation, many of the same names will be there. The two big names that everyone knows will once again headline the starting five. Last year’s breakout arm will be right behind them, followed by the cagey veteran. Then the five slot will be up for grabs, but given the team’s solid offense, that should not be much of an issue.
So when the Cubbies hit the field in the coming season, look for each of these names to be toeing the rubber every fifth day.
- Jake Arrieta, RHP – While he may not have had the best statistics on the staff last season (His numbers were still solid), there is no denying Jake Arrieta is one of the team’s aces. He will be considered a co-ace with Jon Lester, but we will give the nod to Arrieta as the top guy here. This will help break up the lefties in the rotation as an added bonus. As for what Arrieta brings to the table, let’s start with his no-hit stuff. He was the only pitcher in MLB to throw a No-No in 2016 (April 21 against the Cincinnati Reds) and he would carry that momentum to a 3.10 ERA on the year. He would also struck out 190 men in 197 and a third innings with a 1.08 WHIP on his way to 18 wins. The best part is, that was not even his best season and he now enters his contract year. [Kenny]
- Jon Lester, LHP – The co-ace of the staff, also known as the man who holds three World Series rings, will look to build off another fantastic campaign. Jon Lester posted a 2.44 ERA, 1.02 WHIP while striking out 197 batters over the course of 202 and two-third innings as he cruised to 19 wins in 32 starts. The 33-year-old will look to continue his success as he will certainly be integral in the Cubs reaching the top of the mountain once again. The lefty does have a warning flag for some regression in 2017 however, as the batting average on balls in play was .262 last year, which is 20 points lower than his career average.
- Kyle Hendricks, RHP – Hendricks, after being considered a solid prospect for a few years, finally broke out in the Majors last year. The 27-year-old is reaching a peak age and he will look to build on a very productive 2016. Hendricks was so good, he led the Majors in ERA and was right behind Max Scherzer in ERA, ranking second in MLB. His final stat line showed as a 2.13 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 170 strikeouts and 17 victories in 190 innings. With such impressive numbers, he would certainly be deserving of being considered the “ace” of this staff. But simply based on career resume, Hendricks slots behind Arrieta and Lester. Pretty impressive when you have the MLB leader in ERA as your number three starter.
- John Lackey, RHP – Lackey serves as the old man on the team. At the age of 38, Lackey certainly brings some veteran experience to the team, and the staff, making him the ideal number four man. The former ace of the Los Angeles Angels’ staff no longer brings the number one or two starter stuff, but he is still plenty effective. An 11 game winner a year ago sported a 3.35 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Compared to any other team’s number four, Lackey should match up just fine.
- Brett Anderson, RHP – The fifth spot in the rotation will likely come down to two men: Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery. Anderson just agreed to an incentive-laden one-year deal, making him the early favorite. Montgomery is the type of arm who can easily transition between both the rotation and bullpen (he made 7 starts in 49 appearances in 2016) and can easily fill in when an injury crops up. That fact will become important, as Anderson is certainly injury-prone. After a decent 2015 campaign with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Anderson accepted the qualifying last Winter, but would miss most of the season thanks to back surgery. He would pitch a total of 11 and a third innings, posting an 11.91 ERA in 2016. He is a former top prospect with the Oakland A’s, and is entering his age 29 campaign, so there is some hope for Anderson. But his leash will not be long, as the Cubs are certainly in win-now mode and will not stick with him if he is not performing.
How do you see the Chicago Cubs’ starting rotation shaking out for the upcoming 2017 MLB season? Tell us in the comments!
And for more Cubs content, be sure to check out the team’s projected starting lineup, which you can find at the link below!