Bernstein: What Do Cubs Do With Tyler Chatwood?

Even if Chatwood regains his form, there's no place in the rotation for him.

Dan Bernstein
January 29, 2019 - 2:19 pm

(670 The Score) My math skills might be rusty to non-existent, but I think I can still count to five.

So correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the result when adding up Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels. Those are the Cubs' starters, even as they cleave to the old classic idea of having that first guy tasked to go at least a couple times through an opposing order. In the era of bullpenning, it seems downright nostalgic.

And it means Mike Montgomery is in his familiar swing position while last offseason's $38-million acquisition Tyler Chatwood is ... somewhere, doing something.

The problem is that I can't figure out what he's expected to do for the 2019 Cubs or when he's supposed to do it. He forgot how to pitch last season, leading the big leagues with 95 walks in just 103 2/3 innings, an inexcusable issue that prevents him from being effective in any role if it continues. There doesn't really appear to be a neat solution at this point, other than to give him as much work as possible during spring training games, enough of a sample size of innings that don't count so they can judge if he's fixed his troubles. Salvaging a low-leverage reliever might be the best reasonable outcome, sad as that is to say.

Perhaps new pitching coach Tommy Hottovy can work some magic in reclaiming what's left in and of Chatwood, possibly drawing on his experience as run prevention coordinator in his new role, with what has to be a clear understanding that not walking every next batter is a pretty good way of preventing runs.

Nobody expected Chatwood to be useless on arrival in Chicago, not after a 2017 that saw him post a 4.7 walks-per-nine-innings rate and a 1.56 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Those weren't good numbers, but they also weren't the 8.2 and 0.89 marks to which those respective numbers ballooned last year.

At least Darvish actually ended up being injured, his elbow cleanup providing ample reason for optimism that he return to form pain-free. We have nothing tangible like that for Chatwood, unless the Cubs can figure out some way to unplug him and plug him back in or do a hard restore to factory defaults.

And they need to finish constructing their bullpen too, amid the departures of Jesse Chavez and Justin Wilson, the ongoing durability concerns of Brandon Morrow and Carl Edwards Jr.'s own issues with finding the plate at critical times.

I wish I could say Tyler Chatwood was going to be part of any kind of answer.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​