Tyler Chatwood's stock is on the rise now that he's finally out of Colorado, having joined the Cubs on a three-year, $38 million deal. The results at home over the past two seasons have been ugly, with Chatwood posting ERAs north of 6.00 at Coors Field in both 2016 and 2017, but his road splits hint at solid, back-of-the-rotation potential. He had a 1.69 ERA on the road in 2016 (80 innings), and he followed that up with a 3.49 mark in 2017. Perhaps he wasn't as good as that latter number would suggest, as Chatwood benefited from a .217 BABIP on the road -- especially low for a groundball pitcher (58.1 percent groundball rate last season). He also saw a significant uptick in walks year-over-year (4.7 BB/9), and a low-50s first-pitch strike percentage will limit his command, but the team context is now favorable and more faith in the changeup could help him neutralize lefty batters.
Chatwood has an identical 0.82 ERA and WHIP to go along with 12 strikeouts in 11 Cactus League innings. Nine of those strikeouts came in Chatwood's last outing on Tuesday, when he stymied the Giants over five innings. The 28-year-old is the No. 5 starter in a deep Chicago rotation, but he could post much better numbers this season than your typical fifth starter.
Chatwood picked up his first win of the spring Saturday against the Reds, tossing two scoreless innings while walking one and striking out one. Chatwood needed just 13 pitches to get through his two innings, after needing just five pitches to get through a scoreless inning in his first start of the spring. Now that he's out of Colorado, Chatwood could be a breakout candidate with a strong Cubs team behind him that should rack up plenty of wins. He owns a career 3.31 ERA on the road over 315.1 innings, which should be a decent indicator of what he's capable of without having to pitch at Coors Field most days.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon insinuated at the start of spring training that Chatwood would open the season in Chicago's rotation, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. "If Tyler is in fact the last guy who starts, [the rotation is] pretty darn good," Maddon said. "There's some lefties in there, some righties in there, some power in there. Good makeup and personality guys in there. It's an interesting group. I like it a lot." With Yu Darvish, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana all assured starting gigs entering the season, the last rotation spot will come down to holdover Mike Montgomery or Chatwood, who the Cubs signed in December. Though Montgomery was invaluable last season while covering 130.2 innings across 44 outings (14 starts), it doesn't appear he'll have a legitimate opportunity to compete with Chatwood, as Maddon has already been labeling Montgomery as the team's "sixth starter." While that designation means Montgomery will open the season in relief if the team's projected starters are all healthy, his lingering presence means that Chatwood may not have a long leash in a starting role if he scuffles in his initial appearances. Now that he's out of Colorado, it seems less likely that Chatwood will endure the occasional turbulence that marred his tenure with the Rockies. Chatwood owns a 3.31 ERA and has held opponents to a .238/.326/.366 batting line over 315.1 career innings on the road, numbers that surely weighed heavily into Chicago's decision to trade for him.
Chatwood signed a three-year contract with the Cubs on Thursday, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. The deal is apparently worth $38 million over the three years, according to Muskat. While Chatwood posted an unremarkable 4.69 ERA across 147.2 innings last season, his splits were significantly better away from his home ballpark (hitter-friendly Coors Field). The 27-year-old posted a 6.01 ERA while opponents hit .302 against him in 17 starts at home, while those marks sat at 3.49 and .200, respectively, in his 16 starts away from Coors Field. He'll slot into the back end of Chicago's rotation next season.
Chatwood (8-14) allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five batters through five innings in a losing effort against the Marlins. After returning from the bullpen, Chatwood posted a 1.83 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 6.9 K/9 over his first four September starts, which included two outings at Coors Field. Unfortunately, this was a mediocre showing against Miami, and he lines up for a tough start at home against the Dodgers to finish the year, so it's probably best to look elsewhere.