The Lefty Situation in the Cubs' Bullpen and Other Bullets

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The Lefty Situation in the Cubs’ Bullpen and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

rob zastryzny cubsThere will be snow.

Not even that much snow – 2 to 4 inches, at last projection here in the Columbus area – but we’ve been without significant snow pretty much all winter so far, so the very prospect of mid-day snow seems to be throwing everyone off. And I suppose, to be fair, 4 inches on the side streets does make driving much trickier.

  • Did you know that David Rollins is a lefty reliever on the Cubs’ 40-man roster? If you’d forgotten, and then remembered, and then forgotten again, I couldn’t blame you, as Rollins has actually twice been claimed off of waivers this offseason by the Cubs. That came as part of five(!) waiver transactions already for the 27-year-old this offseason, who is clearly viewed by several teams as desirable enough to want in the organization, but worth risking a waiver loss to try to get off the 40-man roster and outrighted to AAA. The Cubs’ 40-man roster is currently at 38, so there is no imminent need to try to outright Rollins again, but it’s certainly possible. Maximum flexibility – while retaining a player asset – is a desirable thing, and the Cubs (and Rangers and Phillies) can hardly be blamed for working to that end.
  • … but there’s a human involved, too. And you couldn’t blame Rollins if he was a bit put off by the way his offseason has unfolded, constantly not knowing where he’s going to be next year, and having that reality entirely out of his control. But, you know, he actually sounds like he has a pretty good attitude about it. You can read here at an interview with the well-traveled reliever, who is excited to join the Cubs. You know, if he actually stays with the Cubs. For a little more on Rollins, you can see the original waiver claim post.
  • That’s all backdrop to a broader discussion that will continue to play out in the coming weeks: the lefties in the Cubs’ bullpen. Right now, the Cubs actually do have a large number of lefty options for the bullpen: Rollins, Jack Leathersich, Caleb Smith, Brian Duensing, and Rob Zastryzny are all already on the 40-man roster. And if the Cubs land Tyson Ross, that could push Mike Montgomery back into the bullpen, too. Options aplenty. But your concern, perhaps, is the lack of a clear, obvious, shut-down lefty? To that, I suppose I’d ask precisely what you’re looking for in a lefty. If you want a full-inning type lefty, this might not be the ideal crew. But if you want a LOOGY – a lefty specialist who is specifically rostered to take out fellow lefties – the Cubs likely have some solid options (Duensing, for one example, has had excellent big league experience getting lefties out). For me, given the presence of righties like Koji Uehara, Justin Grimm, and Carl Edwards Jr., who have shown themselves (at various times and for various durations) to be very effective against lefties, I am far less concerned about the Cubs not having a full-inning lefty type in the bullpen. With this overall group, it seems like the Cubs could get away with carrying only one lefty in the bullpen – a true LOOGY at that – and not be too much worse for the wear.
  • That said, given the naturally occurring injury and attrition battle that every team fights each Spring, I’d still tentatively guess the Cubs break camp with two lefties in their reliever group of eight. Let’s call it 51%.
  • Hall of Fame voting results will be announced January 18.
  • If you missed it this morning, the Cubs and Rangers are the favorites for Tyson Ross.
  • Two fun baseball GIFs Michael put together, one of a classic play, and one of a physics-defying moment:

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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.