Chicago Cubs: Justin Grimm’s time with Chicago may be running out
In 2015, Justin Grimm was a key part of the Chicago Cubs success in their playoff run and looked to continue that role in 2016. Things didn’t go as well last year, and this year he’s found himself demoted to the minors.
The fall from grace for the Chicago Cubs‘ Justin Grimm seems like it was quick. But in reality, his time in the spotlight was pretty minimal. After coming over from Texas during the 2013 season, Grimm settled in as one of the Cubs middle-relief options. 2014 and 2015 saw him compete at a high-level, finishing the 2015 season with a 1.99 ERA in 49 2/3 innings. But things have been in decline since, and his future with the Cubs could be in jeopardy.
Part of what made Grimm so impressive in ’15 was his K/9 rate. He was striking out opponents at a 12.14 clip. And his BABIP was .255 while allowing an HR/9 of just .72. Pretty much everything was clicking for Grimm that season. In 2016 he was still a substantial part of the Cubs’ bullpen, but the numbers began trending in the opposite direction.
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Less K’s, more contact
Grimm was striking out opponents at a less frequent pace and was allowing more H/9 (8.03 from 5.06 in ’15). Another part of it was his BABIP, which jumped to .321. For a team that was the best defensive team in the league, it was a strange number to see a leap in for Grimm. You could associate some of that to “bad luck,” but the Cubs’ defense was as good as there was, so that was a discouraging trend.
After a rough start to this season, Grimm was optioned to Iowa. He had already allowed six home runs in just 14 1/3 innings. Since arriving in Iowa, Grimm has been placed in closing situations. His first few chances went well as he saved both without allowing a run. On Saturday though, things didn’t go so well for Grimm. Just one out away from the save, Grimm allowed four runs to score–including a three-run home run–and blew his first save in three chances.
Can they turn things around for Grimm?
The Cubs have shown an ability to break bad habits and get pitchers back on the right track. The hope was likely to put Grimm in “high-leverage” situations to see how he would perform. It was good until Saturday’s blown save, so it’s hard to say that he’s “washed up.” But there are some concerns there on more than just his BABIP.
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In the “three true outcomes” of pitching, Grimm is trending the wrong way. Strikeouts, walks, and home runs make up the three, and home runs are becoming much too big a part of Grimm’s. The hope is they can get him back to missing bats altogether.
Even with pitching not being the Cubs’ strong suit in the minors, Grimm may be running out of time. With Pierce Johnson and Dylan Cease making their way through the system, the opportunities for Grimm may be dwindling. Things may be looking….grim…for him.