Cubs newcomer Tyler Chatwood shuts down Giants in best start of promising spring

MESA, Ariz. — Is it still too soon to start wondering if Cubs newcomer Tyler Chatwood is going to be really good?

The 28-year-old right-hander, who signed a three-year, $38 million free-agent deal with the team in the offseason, had his best outing of a promising spring in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over the Giants at Sloan Park.

Cubs’ Ian Happ — even without deal he sought — is on a path to get what he wants
Cubs’ Willson Contreras returns with a bang from his week off with the flu

Chatwood pitched five innings of shutout ball, allowing one hit and striking out nine. His spring ERA in four starts: a puny 0.82. That covers only 11 innings, but who’s counting?

Tyler Chatwood threw five near-spotless innings in the Cubs' 2-1 victory over the Giants. / John Antonoff photo.

“It was good,” he said of his latest effort, “but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

Chatwood has his full arsenal working right now.

“I feel like I’m able to throw strikes with my cutter and changeup when I need to, to get me back in counts,” he said. “I’ve always been heavily reliant on my fastball, so if I’m able to keep them off my fastball with the cutter and changeup, it’s just going to make my fastball play that much better.

“And I think I did that tonight. I was able to throw cutters when I was behind and then freeze some guys late on fastballs. So it was nice.”

His experience thus far as a Cub? Also nice.

“Yeah, it’s awesome,” he said. “Obviously, playing against these guys you see them and you see how much fun they’re having, but they’re winning games at the same time. I think that’s the culture they’ve built here. It’s great to be a part of.”

The Buff Brothers

Cubs manager Joe Maddon joked about former star pitcher Jake Arrieta’s compatibility with his new manager, the famously well-put-together Gabe Kapler. Arrieta signed a three-year, $75 million deal with the Phillies this week.

“I think him and Gabe are going to get along well, have chances to discuss diets and supplements and new methods of nutrition and Pilates and the whole nine yards. He went to the right manager regarding lifestyle similarities. … They both belong in a magazine and I’m sure they might end up there side-by-side.”

Draft talk

Arrieta’s signing secures a second compensation pick in this year’s amateur draft for the Cubs, who also received one when the Rockies signed former Cubs closer Wade Davis. Both player were made qualifying offers by the Cubs.

Because both signed contracts worth $50 million-plus in guaranteed money and because the Cubs did not exceed the luxury-tax payroll threshold in 2017, the compensation picks both will be slotted before the third round of the draft. That could mean four picks for the Cubs in the top 80.

And then there were 40

The Cubs cut their spring roster by nine Tuesday. Seven players were optioned to Class AAA Iowa: infielder David Bote and pitchers Dario Alvarez, Luke Farrell, Cory Mazzoni, Alec Mills, Jen-Ho Tseng and Rob Zastryzny. Two others, outfielder Jacob Hannemann and infielder Chesny Young, were assigned to minor-league camp.

Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.