Cubs' Tyler Chatwood Making 2019 A Fresh Start

After posting a 5.30 ERA in 2018, Chatwood made mechanical adjustments.

February 15, 2019 - 10:21 am
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(670 The Score) The Cubs had hopes that right-hander Tyler Chatwood could be a key piece of their rotation in 2018, signing him to a three-year, $38-million contract. Now, it's uncertain where he fits moving forward.

Chatwood endured horrible struggles during his first season in Chicago, posting a 5.30 ERA and 8.2 walks per nine innings over the course of 103 2/3 innings and only 20 starts. He was removed from the rotation in late July, and it remains to be seen whether he will ever re-enter it.

Now back in spring training, the 29-year-old Chatwood is feeling confident after spending the offseason working to bounce back.

"Obviously, last year wasn't what I wanted to do," Chatwood told reporters in Arizona on Thursday. "This offseason, I went to work pretty hard on cleaning up my mechanics a little bit. My hand was struggling a little bit toward the third base side. When my front foot struck, it wasn't up. It's pretty tough to be consistent with that. It was taking my arm away.

"It might seem little, but my timing was terrible last year. It's tough to be consistent that way. But it is tough to make those adjustments on a first-place team too. You're trying to win every game."

Chatwood explained that he couldn't make major changes to his mechanics during 2018 regular season, so he was instead forced to make small tweaks like eliminating the glove tap from his windup. He was removed from the rotation after the Cubs acquired left-hander Cole Hamels in a trade. Chatwood made four relief appearances and one spot start in the final two months of the season.

"I take a lot of pride in what I do," Chatwood said. "I wasn't very happy with that. But it seemed like the harder I tried to fix something, the worse it got.

"I was just trying way too hard. Normally, you want to be free and easy out there. But when you know there's something going on wrong and you're trying to fix it, you're kind of mentally grinding more on that and putting more effort into stuff than I ever had."

Where Chatwood fits with the Cubs is unclear as they begin spring training. The team picked up the $20-million option on Hamels, returning him to a rotation that includes a healthy Yu Darvish, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana. The Cubs have also established bullpen depth this offseason, meaning Chatwood faces a battle to land a spot there.

Chatwood is approaching 2019 as a fresh start and hopes he can return with the Cubs rotation.

"I feel really good and am looking forward to the season," he said.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.