Brad Wieck Was Awesome Last Night and Is Up to 11 Scoreless Innings

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Brad Wieck Was Awesome Last Night and Is Up to 11 Scoreless Innings

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have obviously had tremendous success on the bullpen side of things this year, including among the many up-down guys who have mostly been quite good at the big league level, even when they’ve been squeezed out by roster considerations.

That includes big lefty Brad Wieck, whom the Cubs snagged from a roster-overloaded Padres club at the deadline in 2019, and who looked like a serious breakout candidate to wrap that season. Then the pandemic hit, and Wieck was immediately injured when the 2020 season finally got underway. And then heading into 2021, he was a guy who had a minor league option year remaining, so – with such a glut of really, really good relievers (many of whom do NOT have options) – Wieck got put into the up-down group (i.e., the relievers who get rotated in and out of Triple-A as the roster/rest demands).

Maybe he stays in that group going forward, and is optioned out when the next spot is needed. But for now, I did find it interesting that it was Kyle Ryan who was sent down (a day after he was called up) yesterday to make room for Alzolay, rather than Wieck. And then Wieck appeared in the game to pitch an inning … striking out the side on just 11 pitches, and showing why he’s such an uncomfortable at bat with his gigantic size and huge hook:

That bring Wieck, 29, up to 11.0 scoreless big league innings this year. To be sure, he’s been used exclusively in low-leverage spots as a fill-in guy, but I mean … no one can hit him, he looks the part, he’s striking out 37.0% of the batters he faces, etc. He looks, once again, like a guy.

Will there be a spot for him when Justin Steele returns? When Dillon Maples returns? If and when Rowan Wick returns? When Trevor Williams reclaims a rotation spot and bumps someone back to the bullpen? Etc.?

I tend to think, absent more injuries, Wieck is going to remain on that up-down shuttle so long as he’s got the minor league option and others do not. But I also think it’s *possible* that, in the meantime, maybe he gets a higher-leverage look in the next few days. And it’s then *possible* that he builds himself a level of trust from David Ross that, if there’s just a little more flexibility in the bullpen, maybe Ross and the front office decide they are best keeping Wieck up rather than hanging onto some of the guys who are without options but who aren’t quite as dominating? Just working keeping an eye on the situation, given how good he’s been and how great he looked last night.

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.