The Chicago Cubs currently sit at 38-37 after splitting a four-game series in Miami against the Marlins. Obviously, that’s not where they want to be in terms of wins and losses. Luckily, the rest of the NL Central is having a down year as well. The Cubs only trail the Brewers by 1.5 games for first place.
The good news is that in baseball, the goal is just to get into the playoffs. As we’ve seen before, anything can happen. That should be the Cubs focus as of right now. Just getting into the dance. This isn’t the NBA where an eight seed will never take down a one seed. This is major league baseball, where a wild card team like the San Francisco Giants can win a tiebreaker game and march to a World Series title.
In my opinion, the Cubs are just where they need to be. As long as they are in a position to win the division in September the amount of games they win will not matter.
The Cubs still have one of the most talented to rosters in all of baseball, but they could use a starting pitcher or two. Jon Lester has been the only bright spot in the rotation for the Cubs so far in 2017. Kyle Hendricks was getting hit pretty well early on and has been injured for a solid chunk of time. Jake Arrieta seems to be slowly returning to form, but he has also struggled. John Lackey has been the most disappointing out of anybody. He is currently 5-8 with a 4.74 ERA. Not terrible, but also not the pitcher he was last season.
The trade deadline is quickly approaching. There should be plenty of pitchers on the market for the Cubs to go after. The question is which one should it be? There have been rumors that have linked the Cubs to players like Johnny Cueto and Sonny Gray. Fans on the South Side of town would like to see the teams work out a deal that involved Jose Quintana.
On Sunday morning, one more name got added to that list.
The Detriot Tigers have hit a rough patch in their season and it doesn’t look like it’s going to turn around anytime soon. At 33-42, they are just one game ahead of the Chicago White Sox for last place in the AL Central. The Tigers have many older players past their prime on big contracts, including Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.
General manager Al Avila has hinted that it may be time to rebuild the roster. Big changes could be coming as soon as the trade line and that is exactly where the Cubs should take advantage.
If the Tigers did enter rebuild mode, they would have no reason to keep veteran pitcher Justin Verlander. He could be a nice piece in the rotation and more than anything, a difference maker in the postseason. With the uncertainty of Hendricks and Lackey, the Cubs need to do their homework. Verlander wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
Verlander, 34, is 4-4 with a 4.52 ERA. One thing that stands out about him is that he is pitching in the American League, where pitchers face tougher competition in terms of offense. If traded to the Cubs, Verlander would be moving to the National League. Historically pitchers have had better success going from the AL to NL. Verlander also has plenty of experience in the postseason. He has started 16 games in October, going 7-5 and posting an ERA of 3.39. He also has started two World Series games.
No, Verlander isn’t the same guy who throws 100, but he has turned himself into a successful big league pitcher. Last season, he went 16-9 to go along with an ERA of 3.04. Not bad numbers for a guy who has to go up against teams like the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, and Houston Astros. Verlander’s contract also makes him an intriguing option for the Cubs. He is signed until the 2019-2020 season, meaning he would be just more than a rental.
Verlander’s contract also makes him an intriguing option for the Cubs. He is signed until the 2019-2020 season, meaning he would be more than just a rental. That is important because it’s more likely than not that this will be Arrieta’s final season on the North Side unless he decided to take somewhat of a pay cut, which his agent Scott Boras would be against.
Again, the Cubs roster is still solid and the offense will eventually turn things around. The starting rotation, on the other hand, is a different story. I expect Theo Epstein and the rest of the front office to fix the team’s holes. Why not do it with a guy who has plenty of experience and is locked up for a couple more years down the road?