Although the Cubs starting rotation has been ranked among the top five in baseball on two separate occasions, I’d argue that most fans will be reluctant to label pitching as a strength for this particular team.
I’d disagree with that notion, but I genuinely understand the thinking, especially when you compare the pitching to the loaded lineup.
But once more this offseason, by yet another measure, the Chicago Cubs starting staff has received high praise and are expected to be, individually, among the best starting pitchers in baseball.
At FanGraphs, Tony Blengino takes a look at the likely starting pitchers from each division in baseball and uses their batted ball data to better determine who might perform the best in the coming season.
- Jake Arrieta
- Jon Lester
- Jamie Garcia
- Kyle Hendricks
- Gerrit Cole
- Carlos Martinez
- Francisco Liriano
- Mike Fiers
- John Lackey
- Jason Hammel
For the rest of the list, their corresponding batted ball data and a full write up on most of the pitchers, check out Blengino’s article at FanGraphs here.
While Jake Arrieta (and even Jon Lester, to an extent) aren’t much of a surprise at the top of the division, Kyle Hendricks certainly is. Coming in ahead of Gerrit Cole, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha (among many, many others) is quite the encouraging analysis.
On Lackey and Hammel, Blengino finds some less-exciting, but very consistent qualities. “John Lackey is one durable cat … there is nothing in his profile to discuss a near-term implosion; his decline will be slow and steady.” For a middle of the rotation starter on a team-friendly two-year deal, that is plenty to be happy about. As for Hammel, Blengino acknowledges his warts, but believes he was one of the better fifth starters in all of baseball. If he can simply keep his strikeout rate steady, he too, should be a solid, usable starting pitcher for the upcoming season.
For more on Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and the rest of the pitchers in the NL Central, I encourage you to take a look at Blengino’s article here. We often get used to measuring a pitcher’s past or future success on a familiar series of statistics, so looking at everyone through a different lens can be very educational … especially when it puts the Cubs on top.