Chicago Cubs: Assessing the fifth starter spot candidates

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs, Tyler Chatwood
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

There’s an outside chance that Chatwood could be the team’s fifth start in 2020.

Tyler Chatwood

Chatwood could not have gotten off to a worse start in a Cubs’ uniform. He was in the starting rotation during the 2018 season, and if not for being moved to the bullpen at the end of July, he would have led the MLB in walks. He found a home in the bullpen last year, posting a 3.76 ERA in 38 appearances, while also making five spot starts. As a starter, Chatwood posted a 3.97 ERA while striking out 21 batters but did walk 12. I worry about his ability to pitch more than one or two innings, as his 1.456 WHIP in those four starts is not exactly encouraging.

Why he will get the spot: The only way that Chatwood earns the final starting spot is if he outperforms the others. It’s plain and simple. Perhaps the team can find a trade partner for him at the deadline, assuming he pitches well enough. Perhaps I am dreaming.

Why he won’t get it: The walks are still a substantial concern, not to mention in limited action last year, Chatwood allowed a .333 average third time through the batting order in his starts.

Colin Rea

Rea is such an intriguing prospect, and the former Padres’ and Marlins’ castoff posted a respectable 3.95 ERA in 26 starts with the Triple-A outfit last year. He struck out 120 batters in 148.0 innings, and like Chatwood, he will walk a few batters.  Still, there is an opportunity for him to grab the final spot, and this will be one of the best battles to watch in Spring Training.

Why he will get the spot: Rea’s 3.95 ERA was the best he had ever performed at the Triple-A level, and he’s under team control through the 2023 season. The Cubs need to figure out what they have in him.

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Why he won’t get it: Rea last made an MLB start for the Padres in 2016 and posted a 4.98 ERA in 18 starts. The 29-year-old may be of more use as a bullpen arm if he wants to stick around on a major league roster.