More is Better, but Do the Cubs Actually Need Another Starter? and Other Bullets

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More is Better, but Do the Cubs Actually Need Another Starter? and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

kyle hendricks cubs featureYou know, some of the songs on ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’ aren’t too bad …

  • As we think about how the Cubs might fill out their rotation, I think it’s interesting to look back at the Steamer projections on FanGraphs – just one of many projections that will be available by the end of the offseason, so take it with a grain of salt – to see which pitchers Steamer thinks would make for a reasonable Cubs rotation, and whether the Cubs should indeed be looking to add another starter. As you can see, Steamer doesn’t trust Jake Arrieta’s breakout – he’s projected barely above average – and figures Jason Hammel to be right around league average. Although he’s not on there – you can see it on his player page – Jon Lester is projected to be solidly above average, but something short of ace level. These all strike me as fairly conservative, but that’s how much projection systems are (because they tend to involve many layers of regression). Indeed, Steamer projects just three full-year starting pitchers in all of baseball to post a FIP below 3.00 next year – obviously we know that there will probably be many, many more.
  • But what about the other guys? Well, Steamer thinks all of Kyle Hendricks, Tsuyoshi Wada, Travis Wood, and Edwin Jackson will be below average pitchers next year, and only Hendricks and Wada project as being worth serious rotation consideration (guys like Felix Doubront and Jacob Turner are included in the projections as relievers). Although we may feel like one or two of those guys will do better than that next year, it’s a reminder that it couldn’t hurt to have another starter in the fold. As much as we like to assume that Kyle Hendricks is definitely going to be successful next year, he’s still very young, and subject to the ups and downs that come with adjusting to the big leagues. It takes only one injury to the front-end guys, a little Hendricks adjustment struggling, and nobody in that fifth starter group stepping up (especially if the Cubs have traded Wood by then) for the Cubs’ rotation to be a disaster. That may not be likely series of events to befall them, but it’s got to be on folks’ minds. I love the Cubs’ front three, really like their options at four and five. But, you know. More is better.
  • Something strange I noticed in Steamer’s projections: Wood projects to have the worst FIP of any pitcher on the Cubs, starter or reliever (and that’s true even if everyone is given a full slate of starts for apples to apples purposes). There is a HUGE but here: it’s just one projection system. I wouldn’t take too much from it. That’s true for any single projection, whether they say good or bad things, by the way.
  • Speaking of not taking too much from singular things, whether they’re good or bad … I told you yesterday not to take much of anything away from Javy Baez’s Puerto Rican Winter League debut, in which he struck out a bunch of times. Similarly, don’t take too much away from his second game, in which he walked and had a couple singles (and, yes, one strikeout). It’s fun to follow the games and the stats – because they’re all we have right now – but the point is for him to be getting in work, the details of which we might not fully understand.
  • In his latest chat, Kiley McDaniel named Kyle Schwarber as one of the 2014 draftees who has seen his stock bounce up since the draft. You probably expected that, but it’s nice to hear. Also, McDaniel believes it’s worth trying to see if he can be a catcher, at least part time.
  • What’s it like to try and get an internship with a big league team? Not easy. (Still, I was totally self-satistfied to find that I had good answers to all of the possible interview questions … asked of high schoolers. Are you baseball smarter than a teenager? YES! I AM!)
  • Former Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa is reportedly on the verge of a deal with the Rangers. $9.5 million and a popped elbow later, the Cubs didn’t really get anything for their investment, but it still strikes me as the right kind of risk for the Cubs to take at that time.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.