Despite winning the NL Central last season with a record of 34-26, the Chicago Cubs fell in the NL Wild Card round of the playoffs. In fact, the team has not advanced past the first round since 2017, a year after their last World Series. In efforts to help bolster their starting rotation in hopes to advance further in the playoffs, the Cubs have signed Trevor Williams to a one-year contract.
Trevor Williams will earn around $2.5 million according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman after Williams passing a physical. Spending five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Williams enters the picture with the Chicago Cubs looking to earn a spot at the back end of the starting rotation. Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies are locks to the rotation, while Adbert Alzolay, Alec Milles should be the 3rd and 4th starters. That leaves Shelby Miller, Kohl Stewart and Williams vying for the last spot.
The signing of Williams is a bit of a gamble, even at $2.5 million. Last season, Trevor Williams struggled to an ERA of 6.18, ranked 25th percentile and allowed a league-high 15 home runs. Those numbers are a far cry from those in 2017 and 2018 when Williams looked like one of the best up and coming pitchers in the league. In 321 innings, he posted a 3.56 ERA with 21 wins and 19 losses. After a 14-10 season in 2018, Trevor Williams appeared to be on the verge of stardom. The biggest issue is the home run ball and considering Williams isn’t a power pitcher, that’s a major concern. Pitching at mainly hitter-friendly Wrigley Park is a concern if Williams can’t find a way to regain his 2018 form.
One thing in his favor is the ability to eat innings, which is a plus at the back end of the rotation where the Chicago Cubs could have many arms. At 29-years-old, Trevor Williams can provide a veteran presence with some experience, whereas the combination of Stewart, Mills, and Alzolay have only a little over 200 innings of MLB experience. The Chicago Cubs were 6th in the NL in ERA last season at 3.99. While that is solid, they know to get to the next level they need to be among the top five. Perhaps Williams will find what he had a few years ago. If so, the Cubs could have enough to advance past the first round of the NL Playoffs for the first time in four years.