Cubs Looking to Struggling Lefty Starters as Bullpenners

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Cubs Looking to Struggling Lefty Starters as Bullpenners

Chicago Cubs

james russell cubsLeft-handed starters with huge ERAs are the new market inefficiency.

I kid, though it might be a good place to troll if you’re looking for cheap LOOGYs. To that end, the Chicago Cubs reportedly have interest in Clayton Richard (Bruce Levine) and Jonathan Sanchez (Mark Gonzales), each of whom had an ERA over 7 last year.

Richard, 30, has a modest excuse for his down 2013 season, given that it ended half-way through with shoulder surgery (rotator cuff – shoulder issues are never good, but you can come back from that one, and it sounds like it was a relatively minor procedure). Sanchez, 31, has had a rough two years since the Royals sent Melky Cabrera to the Giants to get him (whoops).

What’s the point of even consider guys like this? Well, you never know where a successful, low-leverage, short-outing reliever might come from. Despite their obvious shortcomings, each of Richard and Sanchez had, at one time, big league-calibre stuff. And then you consider that lefties have hit just .240/.290/.321 off of Richard for his career (3.27 K/BB), and lefties have hit just .218/.313/.363 of off Sanchez (2.66 K/BB), and you see why it’s worth giving guys like that a shot.

That the Cubs are looking to add another lefty to a bullpen that already includes James Russell and Wesley Wright (plus Zac Rosscup, Brooks Raley, and Chris Rusin, before all is said and done) is at least a little interesting, given that the team has carried just one lefty for the better part of two years. Two lefties in a seven-man pen is about right, but three makes sense if one of them isn’t a mere LOOGY (Russell is obviously the closest to being a true, full-inning reliever). If the Cubs do land one of Sanchez or Richard, especially on a Major League deal, you can expect the Russell trade rumors to tick up considerably. For what it’s worth, considering the load he’s faced the last two years, if there was ever a time to try and sell high on Russell, it feels like now is that time.

That said, it’s hard to see either pitcher landing a guaranteed, Major League deal at this point in his career. Getting one or both on a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite? Sure. See how they look as lefty relievers in Spring Training.

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Author: Brett Taylor

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