I heard a little earlier today that the Chicago Cubs were going to have a surprise call-up for this home stand – reliever Spencer Patton – but in the process of figuring out what was going on for the other side of that move, Sahadev Sharma dropped the knowledge:
Spencer Patton coming up to the bigs for Cubs. Neil Ramirez headed to the bereavement list.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) May 5, 2016
That’s sad news about Ramirez, and, although we don’t currently have details, all appropriate support and well-wishes go out.
In the meantime, Patton will get a chance to make his debut with the Cubs after he was acquired last fall in a very under-the-radar trade. (Lots on Patton there at that link.)
Patton, 28, was a dominating reliever in the Royals system until he was traded to the Rangers for Jason Frasor in July 2014. Thereafter, he saw some time in the big leagues with the Rangers with mixed results. His big league strikeout rate was a healthy 25.0%, but his walk rate was a borderline uncomfortable 9.7% (which had been an issue for him in the minors). He gave up 24 runs in his 24 big league innings last year, but that looks to be in large part because of a hellacious 20.0% HR/FB rate.
In Spring Training, Patton cruised through eight scoreless innings, striking out twelve, walking one, and allowing just two hits. Because of the crowding in the Cubs’ bullpen, though, there simply wasn’t a spot for him, in part because the Cubs had the luxury of optioning him to AAA Iowa (something they could not do with anyone else who was realistically on the fence).
So, he was optioned to Iowa to start the season, and all he did there was throw 10 scoreless innings (yes, he has yet to give up a run this year) with a 42.5%(!!!) strikeout rate. The 10% walk rate is not great, mind you, but when you’re striking out nearly half of the guys who come to the plate, it really doesn’t matter. He also allowed just five hits in those 10 innings.
Whether Patton’s otherworldly domination will translate in the big leagues, or whether he’ll have a legitimate shot to show it over an extended stay, remains to be seen. Clearly, something is clicking for him this year, though, and it’ll be interesting to see how he looks if he gets into some action this series.
UPDATE: And the Cubs have announced the move.