As with Jen-Ho Tseng getting the first start of Spring Training on Saturday, you expect to see these early Cactus League starts going to the depth starter options:
Cubs rotation pitches will be in games beginning late next week . Tyler Chatwood will start this Sunday and get stretched out all spring .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) February 21, 2019
Although that may sound more notable than it is at first, the decision to stretch Chatwood out is perfectly sensible. For one thing, even if he’s more likely bound for the bullpen (if anywhere with the Cubs), it’s much easier to transition from a rotation build-up to a bullpen role than to ramp up quickly for a spot start. Anyone who could conceivably be needed as a starting pitcher early in the year should be stretched out.
For another thing, you never know what’s going to happen on the injury front over the coming weeks, so it makes sense to have extra, big-league-capable starters stretched out. Is Chatwood going to be a big-league-capable starting pitcher? Well, that remains to be seen, but he’s on the short list of guys you’d consider giving a chance in the early going if one of the front five goes down.
For another another thing, the bullpen competition is extremely crowded, and it’s not as if Chatwood is guaranteed a spot there just because he’s not starting in the spring.
For still another thing, if there’s a rash of starter injuries elsewhere around the league, who knows if you might be able to move Chatwood to another club if he’s been looking really good as he stretches out in the Spring? I wouldn’t call that one likely, but you preserve the option.
Lastly, it’s all the more sensible to stretch Chatwood out given Mike Montgomery’s shoulder stiffness, which might have him a little behind the ramp-up curve if he, too, were going to be stretched out.
However disastrous Chatwood’s 2018 season was, and how improbable it would be for him to come back from the control problems he suffered last year, there’s no reason not to root for it right now. Here’s hoping he comes out this spring looking absolutely fantastic after his offseason tweaks.
I know how everyone feels about Chatwood, but IF (I wish I could make that even bigger) he's capable of figuring out his control issues, all of the things we liked about him last offseason are still there. He's young and the Cubs are paying. Root for him.https://t.co/72ClZ8pchK
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) February 16, 2019