Feldman deal looking sweeter with time


Jun 20, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher

Scott Feldman

(46) delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Feldman certainly served his purpose as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

Over the course of the first half of the season, the right-hander pitched to the tune of a 7-6 record with an earned run average of 3.46 over 15 starts for Chicago, as he quickly emerged as the most dependable, consistent starter in the rotation.

Batters managed just a .176 average against him as a member of the Cubs, which only helped increase his stock over the season’s first half. As the Trade Deadline approached, potential suitors came calling for Feldman’s services, and as is well-known now, the Baltimore Orioles came out on top.

Feldman and backup catcher Steve Clevenger went to the American League East in exchange for reliever Pedro Strop, once-highly touted starter Jake Arrieta and international bonus slots numbers 3 and 4.

Strop, 28, has been a completely different pitcher since coming to Chicago in the deal. The right-hander, who posted an 0-3 record with an ERA of 7.25 in 29 appearances with the Orioles this season has turned his season around, regaining his masterful form from Baltimore’s playoff run of 2012.

Last year, Strop went 5-2 with a 2.44 ERA for the playoff-bound O’s, making 70 appearances. His numbers have been similar since coming to the Cubs in the Feldman deal, notching 2 wins in 19 appearances with a 2.41 earned run average. His 0.804 WHIP with the Cubs is the best mark of his career, and he has become a flame-throwing presence in the bullpen for manager Dale Sveum, after years of the club lacking such a presence.

Strop is under team control until 2018, making him an even more valuable asset as the Cubs organization sets its sights on consistent playoff runs on an annual basis. Should the right-hander continue to provide Chicago with solid performances out of the bullpen, he could become a mainstay in future plans for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.

The deal looks sweet enough, even just looking at the return of Strop alone. However, add in the promising talents of right-handed starter Jake Arrieta, and things get even better for Chicago.

The former O’s standout never lived up to expectations while in Baltimore, and his career numbers of 21-25 with a 5.29 ERA do little to calm the fears of those who believe he never will pan out in the big leagues.

The 5th round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in the 2007 draft  has seen hitters compile an average of .261 against him over the course of his career, and it seems, this season the front office at Camden Yards finally ran out of patience with their long-standing project. So far, this has panned out for Chicago.

In two starts, Arrieta has allowed just one run in two starts that spans 13 innings of work. His most recent performance, which came on Friday afternoon against the Cardinals, was seven innings of shutout ball, allowing just a pair of base hits while facing one of the most dangerous offenses the league contains.

His earned run average 0.69 with Chicago will no doubt rise, but what is more impressive is his outstanding pitch quality thus far. He has a live fastball that dances between 94 and 96 mph, and compliments this pitch with great breaking stuff that is all held together by near-pinpoint control when he is at his best.

If Arrieta and Strop continue to develop into formidable forces for the Chicago Cubs, both will be large pieces in organizational plans moving forward in the coming years. It is this type of deal that is already rebuilding a broken franchise, and resetting the tone in the clubhouse, on the field and in the stands.

Again, this is the Cubs Way. The right way.