tyler chatwood-chicago cubs-enigma-2018

Tyler Chatwood off to enigmatic start with Chicago Cubs

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While the Chicago Cubs were getting painfully swept by the St. Louis Cardinals late Sunday night it’s apparent that the team has a plethora of issues that are troubling for a team with World Series aspirations. One big thing is consistency and Tyler Chatwood is off to a start that is emblematic of the Cubs’ season on the whole.

During the offseason, the Cubs had to find a replacement for a very lackluster John Lackey and found it in Chatwood. On paper, this looked like a vintage Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer signing.

Before inking a deal with the Cubs, Chatwood had a less than stellar career with the Colorado Rockies and had control issues. It almost sounded like Jake Arrieta during his time in Baltimore. A guy with potential who just hasn’t put it together yet.

If you really dive into the numbers though you can see why the Cubs took a flyer on him. His home and road splits were drastically different and it was clear that the rocky mountain air effected him.

Location

Wins/Losses

ERA

Games Started

Innings

Hits

WHIP

2016 Home

4-8

6.12

14

78

94

1.641

2016 Away

8-1

1.69

13

80

53

1.113

2017 Home

3-8

6.01

12

70.1

81

1.678

2017 Away

5-7

3.49

13 (1 CG Shutout)

77.1

55

1.228

Looking at those stats it’s easy to pencil in Chatwood as a fifth starter as long as he files a restraining order against Coors Field. So far in 2018, it seems like Chatwood has found a way to limit runs being scored. The problem has been that he’s always pitching with somebody on base.

It’s almost comical to post these stats but in 32.2 innings Chatwood has a ridiculous 27 walks. Quite frankly there doesn’t seem to be many clean innings for Chatwood.

While he has walked a ton of guys he is also limiting hits and striking out a fair amount of batters. To go with his 3.31 ERA he has only given up 23 hits and struck out 32 which explains why he has been able to get out of jams.  Chatwood also induces a lot of double play groundballs as he has four in six starts this year and over 20 in each of the past two years.

If Chatwood can put it all together though he can be filthy. If he limits walks he can have outings like he had against the Brewers, pitching 7 shutout innings. But when he is issuing five walks through four innings it forces Joe to go to his bullpen early thanks to an elevated pitch count (89 pitches in four innings).

Luckily, the bullpen has been a major bright spot so far this year but they are being overused due to short outings by the starters. Chatwood certainly isn’t helping the cause.

“The stuff is high-end — we just got to get him over the plate,” Maddon said of Chatwood to The Athletic recently. “There’s a lot of moving parts. More than anything, it’s delivery-related. He needs to find that rhythm. Again, it’s a complicated delivery. Sometimes when you’re like that, if you’re not all together there, it’s not in rhythm, you have a hard time finding your release point.”

“I’m putting myself in bad situations,” Chatwood said. “It’s hurting the team. There is no reason for that fourth inning to happen right there. Just throw the ball over the plate and let them get themselves out. It’s just me beating myself right now.” Even with all of these issues Chatwood still has the third best Cubs starter ERA this year and isn’t far off Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester.

While Chatwood is a microcosm of the Cubs’ issues at the moment it’s hard to blame him for their woes. He has three losses but the Cubs offense and defense have let him, and other pitchers, down.

So far in 2018, the Cubs have made 26 errors that turned into 16 unearned runs. In 30 games, that’s pretty horrible and definitely not what Cub fans are used to seeing over the last few years.

Maybe Chatwood can find his delivery point and really develop into the next Jake Arrieta. Only time will tell but either way, he still is better than John Lackey and that was ultimately the goal of the signing. So far it’s a success but it has the potential to blow up in a good or bad way; which just happens to coincide with any of Chatwood’s starts.

Darren is a passionate Chicago sports fan since birth who is dabbling in podcasting and journalism. He graduated from Carroll University in 2009 with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. In addition to sports he also nerds out on a daily basis whether it's video games, Star Wars, Pokemon, or anything else you can think of. He enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and friends and hopes to have multiple dogs sometime soon.