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Casey Coleman Could Be Working Himself Into a Bullpen Role

Chicago Cubs News

Casey Coleman has been something of an afterthought in the rotation competition, despite being one of the Cubs’ first rotation fill-ins last year (not that that’s a particularly high compliment). The 24-year-old former Minor League Pitcher of the Year struggled with his control last year, and did little to engender a belief that he could succeed long-term as a starter in the big leagues.


So maybe I shouldn’t call it a surprise that Coleman might be emerging as a bullpen candidate this year – and not the swing-man/long reliever type. Coleman recently pitched a scoreless ninth inning, during which he flashed a fastball that touched 94 mph. After a career of starting, could Coleman convert into a one-inning reliever? That velocity increase could certainly help.

And it turns out, Coleman’s happy to crank it up when he’s coming out of the pen.

“There’s a lot of bullpen spots open and guys competing,” Coleman said. “I don’t mind where I’m at. I can come in for one inning. As a starter I like to establish a sinker and throw different pitches. Out of the ‘pen, I can hit 93, 94 [mph] if I need a good fastball.

“I’ve developed a new slider where I drop down a little bit, and that’s a strikeout pitch. I feel [that] overall I can adapt better to the bullpen now with what I have. Last year, at the beginning of spring, I was throwing normal stuff, and I didn’t think I would be effective in the bullpen. Now I’m striking out a few more guys and making pitches when I need to. I think I could adapt to that very easily.”


If Jeff Samardzija makes the rotation, the Cubs will be even more pressed to find another reliever capable of taking a late inning from time to time, especially considering Kerry Wood’s advancing age and tenuous health, coupled with Sean Marshall’s departure. It still seems a long-shot that the guy could be Coleman, but it’s an interesting new possibility.


Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.