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BCB After Dark: Who’s second-best?

Your spot for night owls, early risers and Cub fans abroad looks at the Cubs rotation.

Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the second installment of BCB After Dark, your afterparty for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Bring your own beverage. (We’re still workshopping the slogan.)

Last time I asked: “If you could only keep one, which Cubs legend would you keep on a long-term deal?” As I’m writing this, you picked Anthony Rizzo with 45 percent of the vote. The numbers might change by the time you read this, but I’m going with Rizzo as your choice over Javier Baez and Kris Bryant.

Remember, everyone is invited to BCB After Dark, even if you’re reading this the next morning. But we’d like the late-nighters to get the party started.

Today our question is: “Which Cubs pitcher will finish the year as the Cubs’ second-best starter?” We’re going to assume that Kyle Hendricks will be the Cubs’ ace for 2021, but who will be their second-best pitcher? What we’re asking is who is going to finish the year as the guy you want on the mound if it’s not Hendricks? Who gets to start Game 2 of the World Series? (It’s spring. We can be optimistic.) Let’s limit our discussion to players currently on the roster. Yes, if the Cubs are in the playoff hunt in August they’re likely to trade for a starting pitcher, but we’re not going to count Pitcher X for our purposes.

Here are the candidates:

The Prodigal Son: Jake Arrieta. Was 4-4 with a 5.08 ERA in 44⅓ innings with the Phillies last season. He struck out a career-low 6.5 batters per nine innings and allowed a career-high 10.4 hits per nine. It was also a small-sample-size season for everyone and he’s still Jake Arrieta.

The Newcomer: Zach Davies. Davies went 7-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 69⅓ innings in San Diego. He struck out a career-high 8.2 per nine innings and walked 2.5 per nine, his lowest total since 2016. He also allowed just 7.1 hits per nine, the lowest total of his career except for a short trial when he first got called up by Milwaukee in 2015. It was also a small sample size for him too and he’s not pitching in San Diego with the Padres defense behind him anymore.

The Adjunct Professor: Alec Mills. Threw a no-hitter against the Brewers last year, but you probably knew that. He went 5-5 with a 4.48 ERA in 62⅓ innings last year. He struck out 6.6 per nine and walked 2.7. He allowed 7.7 hits per nine.

The Rookie: Adbert Alzolay. Alzolay spent much of last year at the alternate site, but he did throw 21⅓ innings for the Cubs and went 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA. He struck out a whopping 12.2 batters per nine, but also walked too many batters with 5.5 per nine. He made up for that somewhat by limiting hitters to only 5.1 hits per nine.

The Wildcard: Trevor Williams. Williams struggled on a bad Pirates team last year, going 2-8 with a 6.18 ERA in 55.1 innings. Williams controlled the strike zone well, striking out 8.0 per nine and walking 3.4 per nine. His problem was allowing hard contact, as he allowed 10.7 hits and 2.4 home runs per nine innings.

Someone Else: Who knows? Maybe David Ross will be forced to use Clark on the mound this year.


Who will be the Cubs’ 2nd-best starter in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Jake Arrieta
    (68 votes)
  • 55%
    Zach Davies
    (188 votes)
  • 5%
    Alec Mills
    (17 votes)
  • 15%
    Adbert Alzolay
    (53 votes)
  • 3%
    Trevor Williams
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (1 vote)
338 votes total Vote Now