I'm sure it has been a question bounced around by many over the years, but I myself really hadn't gave it much thought until earlier this week when Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer were discussing it during a Cubs game as I made my drive into work.
The two were talking about who would be in their all-time Cubs starting rotation and why.
Since listening to them talk about it that day, I've spent the last few days trying to come up with who my five guys would be and why each one would be chosen.
Pat and Ron were talking about any player who had started for the Cubs from the beginning of the franchise, but I have decided to narrow my selections to pitchers I have actually seen in person or on television. My picks aren't based solely on one season or they player's career with the Cubs. They are are a five that I feel could get them to the postseason in any given year and then make some noise once they got there.
1. Greg Maddux
Maddux made his debut with the Cubs in 1986 and finished with 133 wins in his 10 seasons with the club. The 2014 Hall of Fame inductee won 355 career games and was a four-time Cy Young Award winner, his first coming with the Cubs in 1992. "Mad Dog" would easily be the ace of the staff in my opinion, and his overall numbers speak for themselves. Surprisingly, he was only 11-14 in the postseason but had an ERA of 3.27. However, I'm banking on Maddux rolling to 20 wins and leading the Cubs to a division title.
2. Fergie Jenkins
Jenkins won 167 games in his 10 seasons as a Cub with an ERA of 3.20. I did not see him pitch in the six straight seasons he was a 20-game winner (1967-72), but his career numbers — 594 starts, 267 complete games, 49 shutouts — have me thinking he would be a fine No. 2 on my staff. Jenkins, with his overpowering fastball, would be a great guy to send out to the mound after an opponent just finished seeing Maddux's soft-tossing act the evening (or day) before.
3. Jon Lester
I know, I know, Lester has only be a Cub since they signed him in the winter of 2014, but man what he has done since he has been here. In the magical season that was a Cubs World Series victory, Lester was an All-Star, the National League Championship Series Co-MVP and pitched and won what turned out to be a crucial Game 5 in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. In 21 career postseason starts, the left-hander has turned in an ERA of 2.55 and just has that "I'll keep us in the game" type of attitude and presence.
4. Kerry Wood
This was a tough selection for me. I knew who I wanted to be my fifth starter, but I needed someone to bridge the gap between he and Lester. Wood made only 178 starts (86 wins) in his 12 seasons in a Cubs uniform and none after the 2006 season, but who could forget that one start against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field? I know Wood had many physical problems over his career, but if I needed five guys to try and get me to the postseason in one season, I'll take a chance. The fact that he ended his career with 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings pitched isn't bad either.
5. Rick Sutcliffe
Sutcliffe's 1984 second half was right up there as one of the best halves baseball history has ever seen. Coming over from the Indians midseason, the "Red Baron" went 16-1 with a 2.69 ERA and helped the team to the division championship — winning the NL Cy Young Award. He won another 18 games in 1987 and was a guy who could also handle the bat a little, not unlike three of my other four starters. Coming off of facing Wood, my hope would be Sutcliffe would be able to use his offspeed stuff to keep opponents guessing.
Well there you have it, my Cubs starting five. I'm sure many of you have different names you'd have in this rotation and for different reasons. I'd love to hear who you would have and why.