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What Tyson Ross Would Mean For The Cubs

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Could Tyson Ross be the key to the Chicago Cubs success in 2017?

After Jason Hammel departed this off-season, the Chicago Cubs are once again in the market for a starting pitcher. Tyson Ross is the pitcher that the Cubs are going after this off-season. Ross is a perfect fit for the Cubs; he is only 29 years old and would be cheap as he missed most of 2016 with a shoulder injury. With Ross close to signing with either the Cubs or Texas Rangers, it is interesting to think that Tyson could be the missing link for Chicago in 2017.

In 2016, Kyle Hendricks started out the season as the Cubs fifth starter. As the season went on, Hendricks worked his way up in the rotation making Jason Hammel the Cubs fifth starter for much of the year. This off-season the Cubs decided not to pick up Hammel’s club option making him a free agent. That decision left a hole in the rotation that many believe will be filled by lefty Mike Montgomery in 2017. Taking Montgomery out of the bullpen would leave the Cubs bullpen very right-handed. Lefty Travis Wood is currently a free agent and does not seem likely to re-sign with the Cubs. The only other left-handed pitchers remaining in the Cubs bullpen would be Gerardo Concepcion, and Rob Zastryzny. Between Concepcion and Zastryzny, they have 18.1 innings of major league experience. Zastryzny pitched very well in his time in the majors as he struck out 17 batters in 16 innings of work.

As it stands right now, Zastryzny would be the go-to lefty out of the bullpen. Concepcion will more than likely not be on the roster coming out of spring training.

Adding Tyson Ross would insure that Montgomery would return to the bullpen in 2017. Montgomery would assume the role that Travis Wood had last season. He would be the Cubs long reliever that could come in and pitch three or four innings if needed. With Montgomery being a left-hander, it only adds to the value of having him work out of the bullpen, especially against teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers who struggled against left-handed pitching in 2016.

Of course, adding Ross would mean that he would be taking the ball every fifth day for the Cubs. Ross has the pedigree as a solid major league starting pitcher. In 2014 and 2015, Ross pitched 195.2 and 196 inning respectively and had an ERA below 3.30 in each of those seasons. All that came to a stop in 2016 when Ross hit the DL after just one start. Things would not get better for Ross who would eventually need thoracic outlet surgery in October. The recovery time for a surgery of this caliber is 4-6 months which would mean that he could not be ready for spring training. Even with that looming over him, the Cubs, and Rangers have been identified as frontrunners to sign the righty.

With a very right-handed bullpen and a fifth starter who has only made 23 major league starts, it is smart that the Cubs are going after Ross. With Ross coming off surgery, the price to acquire the veteran is at an all-time low. Any team looking to sign Ross could get him on a one-year deal at around $10 million. For the Cubs, that is a small price to pay for a guy who could possibly win 15 games in 2017.

If the Cubs acquire Ross, their rotation would look like this:

  1. Jon Lester
  2. Jake Arrieta
  3. Kyle Hendricks
  4. John Lackey
  5. Tyson Ross

Ross would balance out a Cubs rotation that has a chance to repeat as one of the most dominant groups in the league. Not only would Ross fill out the rotation, but he would push Montgomery into a role where he would thrive. Working out of the bullpen for much of the 2016 season, Montgomery posted a 2.52 ERA in 100 innings between the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs. He did make seven starts last season which would make him a good choice to fill-in or replace Ross if he struggles.

Montgomery needs to remain in the bullpen to balance it out and give the Cubs an experienced lefty to go to late in games. Without adding Ross, Montgomery will be forced to become a starter leaving the Cubs with inexperienced left-handed options in the bullpen.

Even without the addition of Ross, the Cubs will still have a good bullpen. The addition of Ross would give them options late in games against teams that do not fare well against left-handed pitching. Tyson Ross could be exactly what the Cubs need in 2017 to help them repeat as World Series champions.