Tsuyoshi Wada a key piece late for 2014 Chicago Cubs
Despite not joining the team until early July, 33-year-old rookie Tsuyoshi Wada played a key role for the Chicago Cubs down the stretch, pitching at least five innings in 10 of his 13 outings – with one of those three remaining starts a loss due to cramping late in the season.
After pitching for several seasons in the Baltimore Orioles organization, with which he never saw big league action, the southpaw joined the Cubs on a deal for 2013. He began the season with Triple-A Iowa, where he dominated for much of the season, giving the Chicago front office a valuable option in the system late in the year as the team’s rotation’s holes became evident – namely in the form of Edwin Jackson‘s struggles and the midseason trade of Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija.
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After making 18 starts for Triple-A Iowa in the season’s first-half, during which he posted a 2.77 ERA and 1.161 WHIP to go along with a 4.29 SO/BB ratio, he received the call-up to Chicago, making his big league debut on July 8. In that start against the Cincinnati Reds, the left-hander did not factor into the decision, allowing just one run in five innings of work, scattering five hits and striking out three.
The southpaw was one of the most dependable arms in the rotation for first-year manager Ricky Renteria in the season’s second-half, running off one streak that was particularly notable in mid-August. In three consecutive starts, all of which came at Wrigley Field, Wada went 3-0 against the Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles, respectively, combining to allow just three earned runs in 18 innings, while striking out 16.
As a whole, the season was an overwhelming success for the Japanese native, as he posted a 3.25 ERA, 3.75 FIP and 1.240 WHIP in his 13 starts with the Cubs, which spanned just under 70 innings of work. Late in the season, he lost a handful of starts due to the fact that Chicago transitioning to a six-man rotation, but was his regular self in his final outing of the year, helping the team avoid a 90-loss season for the first time since 2011.
Wada pitched better than the average replacement level arm, posting a 1.3 WAR across his 13 starts, but despite this fact, multiple reports surfaced late in the season that the Cubs were not planning on picking up his $5 million option for 2015 – which has not been confirmed since those reports surfaced.