Offseason acquisition Eddie Butler has put together a strong spring in his first year with the Chicago Cubs and could be a big part of the pitching staff.
His latest outing, a 4 2/3 inning, two-run effort against the Reds on Sunday, epitomized what Butler does virtually every time out: with nothing flashy, he got the job done.
In 10 innings this spring entering play Sunday, the former Colorado Rockies first-round pick, sported a 2.70 ERA – with an outstanding .114 batting average against. Chicago manager Joe Maddon sees Butler as a potential answer in the starting rotation.
"“It’s there for the taking,” Maddon told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s always up to the individual. Hopefully he has that kind of stuff. He has that high-end major league starter’s stuff. It’s all up to him."
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Of course, the Cubs’ staff could look vastly different this time next year. John Lackey is entering the last year of his contract and 2015 Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta is set to test the open market at season’s end.
To-date, rough memories from the bigs
The best-case scenario for Chicago is simple: Butler figures things out, much the same Arrieta did following his trade from Baltimore. The trade for Butler was considered another Theo-esque move by many. In other words, buy-low with the intent to improve.
And, so far in his North Side tenure, that approach has worked pretty well.
"“It’s a lot easier to play when you’re having fun,” Butler said."
Butler already has a bit of big league experience under his belt. To be blunt, it left a bitter taste in his mouth – as pitching in Colorado often does.
The 26-year-old hurler sports an unsightly 6.50 ERA across nearly 40 career appearances. His 1.770 WHIP won’t turn any heads – at least not in a positive fashion. Control issues (2.24 SO/BB) has plagued him as well, although, given he’s a ground ball pitcher, strikeout totals aren’t necessarily indicative of success.
There’s no guarantee his spring success carries over to the regular season next week. But, with a clear role as a reliever, Butler may be poised to put it all together for the first time. We’ve all seen what Chris Bosio is capable of – and given his make-up and youth – Butler may be the ideal candidate for another Bosio turnaround.