Chicago Cubs: The resurgence of Trevor Cahill


Maddon turned to an unlikely candidate in the set-up role against the Cards with sparkling results

Most people–and Chicago Cubs’ Trevor Cahill is likely included–probably didn’t expect him to be pitching again after the miserable stretch he’s had in recent years, far removed from his days with the Oakland Athletics where he once won 18 games in a season. He went from Oakland to Arizona, then to Atlanta. The Diamondbacks even paid part of his salary to be rid of him. Two months later with a 7.56 ERA in just 26.1 innings the Braves released him. Were the Cubs desperate at the time? Or just thinking outside of the box for a situation like last night?

Whichever the case, it worked to perfection. With Pedro Strop having a bit of a tough time with the Cardinals (especially In St. Louis), Joe Maddon turned to the not-so-obvious choice of Cahill to pitch the eighth. The sinker-baller was damn near perfect, throwing just eight pitches–seven for strikes–while striking out two. With some question marks in the middle of the bullpen leading up to Hector Rondon, the Cubs needed as “unknown” to step up. Cahill may be taking that leap.

The sample size with the Cubs isn’t that much smaller than his time in Atlanta. But Cahill went from that 7.56 ERA to a 2.21 ERA with Chicago. Cahill may never again find whatever it was that made him one of the top starters for the A’s, but he doesn’t need to. Maddon needs Cahill to be reliable for an inning or two, just as he was last night.

The Cubs bullpen arms have seen a lot of innings, a lot of appearances. Cahill is fresh, and because he was picked up later he’s relatively new to the Cardinals. That offers an advantage in itself in that the Cards won’t be as familiar–and that seemed apparent last night–as he made quick work in the eighth against them.

Maddon isn’t one to label bullpen roles. He goes with the hot hand, and experience is not necessary. He’s seen enough in Cahill’s time in Chicago to trust him in key moments. As we’ve said often this year, in Joe we trust–so I guess in Cahill we trust as well.

Next: Cubs need to be confident, but not arrogant