Chicago Cubs: Trade deadline acquisitions making big impact

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs Cole Hamels
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Despite not bringing in any big names at the trade deadline, the Chicago Cubs’ recent additions have already made a splash.

The Chicago Cubs were rumored to be interested in many big-name players at this year’s non-waiver trade deadline. None of them turned out to be true.

Instead of paying a high price to acquire a dominant piece to anchor the bullpen or starting rotation, the Cubs opted for more affordable guys that add depth to what was a shorthanded pitching staff.

Before the Cubs made their first trade deadline acquisition on July 19th, the starters had combined for a 3.90 ERA – good for 11th among MLB teams. By that number alone, the Cubs’ starting rotation didn’t sound like a group that needed much help. The underlying numbers tell a different story.

As a unit, the Cubs starters had the 5th highest FIP of all MLB staffs at 4.68, indicating that regression was coming. They also had a 10.7 percent walk rate, the second-highest mark among all 30 teams.

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The rotation, outside of Jon Lester, was abysmal. Jose Quintana and Kyle Hendricks didn’t look like themselves. Yu Darvish – the big free agent acquisition who was supposed to replace Jake Arrieta and lead the pitching staff – had been sidelined by injury for the majority of the season. Tyler Chatwood looked like he didn’t even deserve a spot on a major league roster.

Despite the lack of production from the starting rotation, the Cubs’ bullpen had actually been a bright spot on the team. The group’s 3.10 ERA was fourth best in baseball and second best in the National League, but they had been worked hard.

The Cubs’ starters had thrown just 507.2 innings before Theo Epstein and the front office made any moves. That number was the 6th lowest of all teams, meaning that the bullpen had been worked relentlessly. In addition to a high innings count, the team’s two best relievers, Brandon Morrow and Carl Edwards Jr., had been sidelined by injuries at multiple points throughout the first half.

The lack of consistency from the rotation and the amount of work put in by the bullpen led the Cubs to make three deadline moves. A short time into their Cubs careers, each of the three acquisitions has made a noticeable impact on the mound.