The Cubs will get a new starting pitcher in the rotation tomorrow in St. Louis, as Eddie Butler comes up to make his season debut. How long his stay is in the rotation could depend a great deal on how he looks, and on Brett Anderson’s recovery from back tightness. Given Anderson’s injury history, his ineffectiveness this year, and the fact that he’s coming off of a season lost to back surgery, though, I’m guessing he’s going to be missing more than just one start.
But Anderson was already on the disabled list, which means Butler will have to replace someone else on the 25-man roster. As we mentioned in the Bullets this morning, with nine guys in the bullpen right now, it figured to be someone coming out of the pen, and Jeimer Candelario staying up with the big league team as part of a four-man bench.
Grimm, 28, hasn’t been quite right this year, sporting a 7.53 ERA and a 8.26 FIP. Even if you account for his probably wildly inflated HR/FB ratio (37.5%), his xFIP is still an unsightly 4.68. His strikeout rate is far down from where it was in the last few years (just 23.4%), and his walk rate has surged to 12.5%. That’s not a combination that’ll work for a late-inning reliever, and, when coupled with the dingers, it’s not a ratio that can work in any role. Hopefully he can get things straightened out at Iowa, because there may yet be a need for him later this year. Bullpens are always in transition, after all.
As for Pena, 27, he’ll get a chance to stick around a little longer after two appearances thus far in 2017 at the big league level. He has been highly effective in the upper minors since a conversion to the bullpen, so there’s little reason not to see if he can’t be a solid big league middle reliever at this point.
Of course, as the Cubs get guys back from injuries in the coming days (Jason Heyward and Brett Anderson are on the DL), or have to send others to the DL (Addison Russell is dealing with a sore shoulder), these names and faces at the interchangeable end of the bullpen can move around rapidly. Grimm could be back very soon, and Pena could go out. It all might depend on how well a guy is throwing in his latest very small sample.
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