One result of last night’s game at Wrigley is that Cubs’ fans are eyeing the Cubs’ bullpen, or at least the non-Travis-Wood left-handed side of that bullpen, with some skepticism. That skepticism is entirely warranted, and so is taking a look around baseball for lefty specialists who could be picked up via trade. Some of them are likely to be prohibitively expensive, but some aren’t. Besides, shopping is free.
But don’t forget to take a look internally for options as well. The Cubs have some candidates already in house, and I would not be surprised to see the Cubs try out one or two of them before pulling the trigger on a major acquisition.
First of all, how about Gerardo Concepcion? Between Tennessee and Iowa this year he has an ERA of 0.66. He’s given up just two runs on eleven hits, and only three of those hits came from left-handed hitters. Against lefties with Iowa (sample size alert) he’s allowed a batting average of just .167 while striking out four in 3.2 innings. I’d rather see him get more seasoning in Iowa first, but if the Cubs need an option in the short term, he could be a good one.
So could Rob Zastryzny. Right now Zastryzny is a starter, but even as a starter he is markedly more effective against left handed hitters. With Iowa, for example, in 7.2 IP against RHH he has an ERA of 4.70 on a batting average against of .292. Against lefties those numbers drop to 2.08 and .250 respectively. Long term I think the Cubs will want to keep him as a starter, but short term some work out of a major league bullpen would probably be good experience.
There’s also Giovanni Soto, who is already on the 40-man roster. Although he’s struggled this year at Iowa (4.96 ERA in 16.1 innings), he has had success against lefties in the upper minors in his career.
The final option I want to call out from Iowa’s roster, and perhaps the most likely to get a near-term trial in Chicago if the option is to come internally, isn’t actually a left handed pitcher. Brandon Gomes is a 31-year-old right-hander, but in 2015 he was more effective against lefties than righties. He faced 110 left handed hitters last season, and they hit just .192 off him. Right handers (135 of them) hit .281. That trend has continued in Iowa this season. Lefties are hitting .100, and righties .238. It may be a little unorthodox, but the numbers say the Cubs could do a lot worse than to give Gomes a shot as a lefty specialist.
- Alex Sanabia: 5 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 K
- Armando Rivero: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K
- Arismendy Alcantara: 2 for 6
- Willson Contreras: 2 for 5, 3B, BB
- Albert Almora: 1 for 5, SB
- Dan Vogelbach: 3 for 4, HR, BB
- Juan Perez: 1 for 5, 3B, SB
- Logan Watkins: 2 for 5, 2B, 2 SB
- John Andreoli: 1 for 3, 3B, BB
- Munenori Kawasaki: 3 for 4, 2B, BB
- Jose Rosario: 2.2 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 3 K
- Josh Conway: 2 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 1 BB
- Jacob Hannemann: 3 for 5, and an outfield assist.
- Billy McKinney: 2 for 4, HR. That was McKinney’s first homer of the year.
- Stephen Bruno: 2 for 4, 2B
High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Myrtle Beach had the day off.
- Kyle Twomey: 5.1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 4 BB, 3 K
- Casey Bloomquist: 2.2 IP, 4 R (1 ER), 6 H, 2 BB, 1 K
- P.J. Higgins: 3 for 5
- Ian Rice: 2 for 3, BB
- Eddy Martinez: 1 for 4, 2 SB
- Chesny Young has appeared in 222 minor league games since becoming a professional in 2014, and yesterday was the first time in his professional career that he struck out four times. I could only find two games in which he struck out three times (both last season). That’s fairly impressive.