Reds the Best NL Central Rotation? Dodgers Rotation Questions? Ian Happ, Third Baseman? And Other Cubs Bullets | Bleacher Nation

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Reds the Best NL Central Rotation? Dodgers Rotation Questions? Ian Happ, Third Baseman? And Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I can’t decide if I should pause my MCU movie binge in order to watch some Star Wars flicks this week in advance of ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ on Thursday night. The reality is that I mostly didn’t like ‘The Force Awakens’ or ‘The Last Jedi,’ so I’m just not really enthused about rewatching them (heck, a huge part of me is seeing TROS on Thursday more out of a sense of obligation to my childhood – completing the full circuit – than any actual eagerness to see it). Like, it’s more likely to leave me annoyed in advance of TROS than excited for it. Maybe it’s better to just stay as blank-slate-y as possible.

  • I don’t think this is an insane question, even after “merely” signing Wade Miley … in fact, I think there’s a lotta meat here:

  • If you believe Bauer is better than he was last year – and you buy everyone else – that’s a really incredible rotation, and I don’t have any beef with Rosenthal saying they’re the class of the division. You can rule out the Brewers and Pirates immediately, because one doesn’t build rotations and the other is rebuilding. The Cubs have at least a couple guys who would be right up there with the Reds’ starters, obviously, but there are such big questions about Jose Quintana and Jon Lester, to say nothing of the wide open fifth starter spot. The Cardinals may have the best pitcher in the division in Jack Flaherty, but I think you could have reasonable questions about everyone behind him. So, yeah, I guess it’s not much of a leap to say the Reds have the best rotation, particularly after adding a solid guy like Miley.
  • You could take some issues if you wanted, though. For example, Sonny Gray had the elite ERA, but his expected stats at Statcast suggested there was a lot of luck there. Castillo is legit, but he’s also almost hilariously reliant on his changeup staying among the best pitches in baseball to be successful, because it’s paired with a meh fastball and a below-average slider – even a slight hit to his changeup’s effectiveness, and he’d fall way off. Bauer was super elite in 2018, but has otherwise been consistently been an average pitcher throughout his career. Desclafani was very good last year, but was brutal the year before, and has dealt with injury issues that have prevented him from establishing himself (he’s 30 in April). As for Miley, let’s see how he does away from the Astros and after the league has had a couple years to adjust to that cutter he developed with the Brewers in 2018.
  • You can do this with virtually any collection of pitchers in baseball, obviously. And on paper, this is the best group in the NL Central. Wild.
  • Surprise! The Dodgers are loaded again:

  • The Dodgers – who are rumored to still be in on Josh Donaldson and Kris Bryant – have 12(!) batters currently projected to post an above-average slash line in 2020, including six guys at a 110 OPS+ or better. I get that you gotta shoot your shot, and more is better, redundancy is good, etc., but it sure seems like the focus always should have been to aggressively add a quality starter. With Clayton Kershaw a year older, with Hyun-Jin Ryu departing, and with Rich Hill injured/departing, that rotation actually looks strikingly dicey. Even if you’re thinking it’s because top pitching prospect Dustin May isn’t included, it’s not – he actually projects to be only slightly better than average in 2020. I didn’t realize things were quite so dire for the Dodgers rotation. They really need to add a starter.
  • That bullpen is loaded, though, with tons of young depth behind it to rotate in and out. So I guess there’s that.
  • A way to keep Ian Happ’s bat in the lineup if the Cubs add a center fielder, but trade Kris Bryant? An interesting one from Sahadev Sharma:

  • Happ has seen precious little time at third base in the big leagues (just 184.0 innings total), so I’m only barely willing to tell you that the advanced defensive metrics peg him as around average there (he has rated as slightly above average overall in his big league time in the outfield, for what it’s worth). In the minor leagues, he has seen no time at all at third base. That tells me the Cubs were always trying to see if he could prove himself capable at second base, while knowing that he’d more or less be at least fine in the outfield. So making him a regular or semi-regular third baseman in the big leagues – even if he’s played there a little with success – is a pretty big risk, and you’d have to think the bat was definitely going to be as great as he showed late last year.
  • This is awesome:

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.