Cubs

Cubs wild man Tyler Chatwood ‘100 percent sure’ he’ll be back in command in 2019

Jon Lester stood in the quiet of a losing clubhouse and ticked off the challenges the 2018 Cubs faced that contributed to their undoing. Yu Darvish. Brandon Morrow. Kris Bryant. More than once, the veteran lefty named names. If only they’d been healthy, if only they’d been themselves, how different things might’ve been.

Alone in a chair at his locker stall — not 10 feet from Lester and able to hear it all — sat Tyler Chatwood. Lester had declined, or perhaps simply forgotten, to mention him.

Chatwood, 28, who signed a three-year, $38 million free-agent deal with the Cubs heading into 2018, was perhaps the biggest disaster of all. His rate of 8.2 walks per nine innings, highest in Cubs history, rendered him of no use to the team.

“It sucks that it happened,” he said. “It definitely stunk to not be out there every fifth day, able to help.”

Tyler Chatwood gets a visit to the mound from pitching coach Jim Hickey.

Tyler Chatwood gets a visit to the mound from pitching coach Jim Hickey.

Will Chatwood even get a chance to turn his Cubs story around? Will he be dealt in the offseason? If he were to go to spring training with the Cubs and pitch well, would there be, even in the best-case scenario, an opening in the 2019 rotation for which he could compete?

For what it’s worth — and no matter how many people who read Chatwood’s words roll their eyes — he is hell-bent on returning to top form and proving he’s worthy of all the encouraging things Cubs team president Theo Epstein said about him last December.

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“Uber-talented.” “Moving into his prime.” “Great makeup.” Those were just a few of them.

“I’m 100 percent sure and there’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be back to what I know I can do,” Chatwood said. “I know my stuff is still there. It’s not like I was getting hit around. It’s just [about] me, my command. I still have all my stuff. There’s no doubt I’ll be back out there.”

There will be no more changing his delivery in hopes of helping to locate his fastball, Chatwood insisted.

“For some reason, I switched things up this year mechanically. If you watch, I had quite a few different deliveries. That’s not me. I have my delivery and that’s what I know; whenever things go wrong, I know how to fix it. But when you switch things up, it’s tough. You don’t really know what to correct. You get lost.”

Chatwood has had enough of being lost. He’s aiming to find his old self and be rediscovered in the process.

“I didn’t do what I wanted to do coming here,” he said. “It was a bad season. But I don’t think the [Cubs] window is closed. I’ll be ready.”