What 2022 Starters Should be in the 2023 Rotation?

The Cubs starting pitching has been real bad this year. Individually, no one has been abysmal. We don’t have to endure Zach Davies or 2021 Jake Arrieta this year. Just a bunch of ‘meh’ pitchers that have collectively produced a 27th ranked fWAR this season. Clearly, the rotation needs to be better if the Cubs are going to get out of the NL Central cellar next year.

We all hope to watch competitive baseball in 2023 or 2024, and a lot of that hope hinges on either:

  • Guys in the system like Kilian, Wesneski, Wicks, and Horton turning into effective Major League starters
  • Jed bringing in one or two established starters.

But both options assume some guys currently in the rotation won’t be there for long. I want to get this board's view on who currently starting you view as a long-term option.

Some food for thought:

Some notes on this:

  • The far-right column normalizes all of the starters fWAR over 31.153 games started. This is the average number of starts made by all qualified starters in 2021. Ideally, we’d like five starters who each pitch a full season, so this is a rough extrapolation of what the Cubs’ primary five would look like over a full, healthy season.
  • This only includes Keegan Thompson’s starts. He’s been much stronger this year as a reliever.

Right now, based on 2022 performance I see two solid (if unspectacular) starters, and three guys who you wouldn’t mind picking up spot starts. Keegan Thompson should probably be back in the bullpen as a multi-inning guy. Drew Smyly has a mutual option that should probably be declined. Kyle Hendricks is a franchise icon and he’s under contract next year. He’s probably in the rotation, but we should recalibrate our expectations. He’s most likely a fifth starter who can eat some innings. He’ll look like Cyle about a third of his starts, get lit up a third of the time, and be adequate otherwise.

So three guys who should/will probably be in the rotation and might combine for like ~7WAR if the stars align. To be competitive, the Cubs probably need to get about 10 more WAR out of the starters. That’s a real tall order.

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