As we begin to dive deeper into the postseason, let’s have a look at what might happen to the Cubs’ pitching staff in 2017.
Tuesday, Joe Maddon told 670 The Score that Mike Montgomery is likely going to be in the 2017 rotation and had these further comments:
“Montgomery, I’m telling you man, this guy is a legitimate major league starter,” Maddon said. “He’s going to win a lot of major league baseball games. The big thing with him is we have to keep him on point, on task and have him understand how to utilize his stuff, because his stuff is that good.”
Sounds like a task for pitching coach Chris Bosio, who has worked wonders with other pitchers who have come to the Cubs, including Jake Arrieta.
Another task for the Cubs this offseason is to figure out who’s going to close games in 2017. It almost certainly won’t be Aroldis Chapman again; Chapman, a free agent, has already been linked to the Dodgers and Yankees. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has these thoughts about what direction Theo Epstein and the Cubs might take:
Epstein, in 14 years as a lead executive, has spent big on a free-agent closer only once -- back in 2003, when he signed Keith Foulke to a three-year, $20.75 million contract. Part of that was due to circumstance -- the Red Sox drafted and developed Papelbon; the Cubs, while rebuilding, did not need an accomplished closer. But given Epstein’s history, it’s probably unwise to expect him to sign Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen or even Mark Melancon.
Even as bullpens become more prominent, especially in the postseason, some executives believe that they can create closers or develop them cheaply. While Chapman was a high-priced international signing, Jansen is a converted catcher, and Melancon was traded three times before he became a top closer. Epstein’s Red Sox drafted Papelbon as a closer, but used him as a starter in the minors.
The Cubs clearly need help in the back of their bullpen; manager Joe Maddon trusted Chapman but few others as the postseason continued. But rather than spend say, $80 million, on Chapman or Jansen, they could seek lower-priced alternatives, leaving the Dodgers, Giants, Nationals and Yankees to battle at the top of the market. And remember, Epstein always could adjust at midseason, just as he did when he traded for Chapman in July.
It’s possible that a healthy Hector Rondon could reclaim his closer job, or the Cubs could give Carl Edwards Jr. a shot at the role. Edwards has the stuff and appears to have the right makeup to be a closer.
If the Cubs don’t spend big on Jansen or Melancon, that would also leave them the money to perhaps re-sign Dexter Fowler, or to save up for the big paydays that will soon go to Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber.
Mainly, I posted this so you could share your own thoughts on where Cubs pitching — both starting and relieving — might go in 2017 and beyond. So, it’s your turn.