Tyler Chatwood signed a three-year deal with the Cubs on Thursday afternoon. After pitching in Colorado for six seasons, he moves out of the most unfriendly home pitcher’s park to be the Cubs’ No. 4 starter. While any move will improve Chatwood’s projections compared to pitching in Coors Field, he still has a major wart holding down his value.
On the surface, Chatwood struggled last season with a 4.69 ERA backed by a 7.3 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9, both career highs. While a 2.5 mph increase in fastball velocity helped increase his strikeouts, he had problems controlling the pitch, and his walks ballooned. Of the 115 pitchers with at least 120 innings pitched, his walk rate was the third-highest. At least on the positive side, his groundball rate (58%) was the fifth-best among the same group of starters.
Since every pitcher struggles at Coors, Chatwood’s road stats may point to how he’ll perform next year. He struggled at home, but all the damage was BABIP driven. Here are home and away stats for the past two seasons (missed 2015 from Tommy John surgery).
Most of his ERA struggles was from pitching at home, but his strikeouts and walks were nearly identical. He won’t be able to maintain a sub-.230 non-Coors Field BABIP, but it will likely be below league average because of his high groundball nature.
Assuming he can keep the velocity up (not a given after losing velocity late in the 2017 season), here are some pitchers who have similar strikeout and walks numbers and their ERAs. One issue with getting good comps is Chatwood’s high walk rate. Overall, the list is uninspiring.
Even though Chatwood’s road ERA’s seemed near elite the past two seasons, it’ll likely stay above 4.00 next season.
There is no way to know for sure how the public will view his fantasy value, but I would not be surprised if he gets overvalued because:
- Owners will look only at his road ERA and project it for an entire season.
- He’s on the Cubs and will get wins.
It’s just tough to get excited over a WHIP-killing starter who just strikes out batters at a lower than league average rate. Chatwood’s going to need to get the groundball going to make up for all of the walks. The new ballpark just doesn’t cover the value drag from the walks. In standard leagues, he’s still undraftable. And in deeper leagues, he’s a late-to-reserve-round pick, at best.
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