Cubbies Crib has entered the final stretch in our coverage of the Cubs’ 40 man roster. The next player to be profiled in our 40 man roster series is Casey Coleman.
Coleman was no stranger to Wrigley Field last season. With early season injuries to starting pitchers Andrew Cashner, and Randy Wells; Coleman was asked to fill in the Cubs’ rotation for most of the 2011 season. This was Coleman’s opportunity to prove that he can be respectable starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. Unfortunately for Coleman, that opportunity sailed away as his ERA inflated over the course of the season.
Coleman started 17 games for the Cubs last season, and appeared in 19 games overall. Coleman pitched to a record of 3-9 with an ERA of 6.40. Former manager Mike Quade gave every chance imaginable to Coleman to try and solidify his name in the Cubs’ starting rotation and the young starter failed to prove that he can be effective as a starting pitcher. Coleman’s struggles reached a point to where in September it was uncertain whether or not the starting pitcher would be with the Cubs’ organization.
Despite all the changing pieces to the Cubs’ organization during the off-season, Coleman was not one of them. The pitched entered Spring Training with the outside chance of landing a spot in the starting rotation. Coleman will not be in the Cubs’ starting rotation this season barring an injury, but it is likely that the young pitcher could be a part of the Cubs’ bullpen. Manager Dale Sveum admitted over the weekend that he has penciled in five or six starting pitchers for the bullpen, and his given off indications that Coleman is one of them.
Coleman has been impressive this Spring, at least in comparison to his 2011 numbers. Coleman has appeared in seven spring games, 10.2 innings, and has posted an ERA of 3.38 giving up 11 hits in the process. Coleman has only started one game for the Cubs this Spring, with his other six Spring appearances coming as a reliever. Perhaps the most impressive stat about Coleman’s spring, is that he has a WHIP of 1.22 while only issuing two walks. Coleman struggled in 2011 with his command, so albeit a small sample size, it is encouraging that Coleman’s walk totals are down this Spring.
Coleman does not have the power arm like that of Cashner, or former Cubs’ reliever Chris Carpenter; but he could be an effective reliever. Coleman is at his best when he is able to his the strike zone against the opposing batter. Such a strategy means Coleman would vary the location of his pitchers from high on the outside corner, to low on the inside corner, etc. The Cubs already have power arms in their bullpen with Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, and Rafael Dolis; which is Coleman will serve as a nice compliment as he pitchers with more of finese style rather than trying to overpower hitters.
I would imagine that this is Coleman’s “prove-it” season. Coleman failed as a starting pitcher last season, and now he will have the opportunity to be an effective reliever. If Coleman fails in his bullpen role, then it may signal the end of his time with the Cubs’ organization.