As we moved to the off-season there was a pressing need to increase impact pitching and depth. The Cubs started off the winter by signing multiple bullpen arms to strengthen and already great bullpen. The signings included Rex Brothers, Trevor Cahill, Spencer Patton, Andury Acevedo and Edgar Almos. A nice mix of young and experienced relievers with varies degrees of success and pitches they throw. I think there will be one open spot in the Cubs bullpen after a majority of the below names are added.
Adam Warren – Warren was a jack of all trades for the Yankees last season appearing in 43 games (17 starts). He pitched in 131 and 1/3 innings striking out 104 batters while only walking 39 batters. It was good enough for a 2.6 K/BB ratio. It showcases that Warren has a firm command of the strike zone and be put in a starter’s role or high leverage situations. I firmly believe he’s going to give Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel all they can handle when battling for the final starting spots.
Andury Acevedo – Acevedo pitched at three levels for the Yankees last season. The three level included: High A, Double A and Triple A. He combined to pitch 59 innings in 41 games and it was split about 1/3 of that total for each level. He limited hitters to a .233 average while pitching to a 1.25 WHIP as he gave up 53 hits and 21 walks. His earned run average for the season is 2.59 while he’s only 25 going into the 2016 season. My guess is that he’ll compete for a bullpen spot in spring training but will head to Iowa to start the season.
Spencer Patton – Patton is 27 years old and is from Illinois. He was recently acquired in November and pitched to a 1-1 record with a 9.00 earned run average. He gave up 24 runs in 24 innings and had a spike in flyball percentage vs groundball percentage in 2015. It could have contributed to his increase in earned run average as well as more exposure to big league hitters.
Clayton Richard – Richard is an interesting case as he was acquired before the July 31st deadline as starter depth from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had three early starts in the month of July before becoming a long man reliever and then most notably an intriguing option out of the bullpen. He looks to be an interesting potential addition once again as he pitched 42 and 1/3 innings with a 3.58 FIP and 22 walks to 7 walks. Richard seems like a no brainer addition but we’ll have to see how the roster shakes out these next few weeks. Richard should get a bigger role in the bullpen and can spot start if needed although that role probably will go to Warren.
Travis Wood – Wood has a bigger skill set then Richard in the pen as he can effectively pitch well to lefties and righties. He was the main piece in the Sean Marshall deal with the Reds and has pitched adequately as reliever while showing some signs a starter. He’ll slot into a shared seventh inning role with either Grimm or one of the other high leverage relievers. Wood will be a name to watch as to see if he can continue his great success the past two years.
Pedro Strop – Strop came via the Arrieta for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman deal. They both have performed very well with the team. He’s been a dominant eight inning reliever seemingly only to struggle a bit with control and the St Louis Cardinals. If Strop can keep the walks low he can continue his dominance of National League hitters. It seems like a theme as three of the pitchers on this list have showed great dominance over a 3 year period. In terms of going forward he should slot right in front of Rondon and won’t become a free agent until 2018.
Hector Rondon – This man has been an underdog his entire life starting from when he was Rule 5 pickup. Rondon has been the closer the past two seasons. In the past three years with the Cubs at the major league level he has pitched to 3.04 earned run average and a 2.88 FIP with 59 saves. He also chipped in 188 innings only surrendering 59 earned runs and 159 hits while striking out 176 hitters. Rondon looks to stay as the closer continuing throwing his high velocity fastball with great movement and his devastating slider to use as his wipe out pitch.
Justin Grimm – Grimm is fairly inexpensive and looking to continue to build on a strong 2015 campaign. As you all remember Grimm was a part of the Matt Garza deal along with Carl Edwards, Neil Ramirez and Mike Olt. So far in the 3 years with the Cubs he has contributed a 2.99 earned run average in 145 games and 33 games he’s finished. He’s enjoyed great success as a reliever as the strikeouts have increased while the innings have decreased as he was primarily a sixth inning/seventh inning guy. His 10.2 K/9 ratio and 3.13 FIP through his time with the Cubs almost has assured him his leverage role once again.