Chicago Cubs: Eddie Butler ready to silence his critics, doubters

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Eddie Butler
MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Eddie Butler /

Just before Opening Day, Eddie Butler secured a spot on the Chicago Cubs’ 25-man roster to start the season. On Friday in Miami, he made an immediate impact, pitching seven innings in a 17-inning loss.

Eddie Butler’s role with the 2018 Chicago Cubs came right down to the wire. The last addition to the team’s 25-man roster, the right-hander barely edged his way onto the club. Out of minor league options, the right-hander put together a decent spring. He pitched to a 4.20 ERA and 1.130 WHIP in three starts and three relief appearances.

Friday night, he made his case for belonging with this team. In just the second game of the season, he showed his value to the Cubs’ pen. As many anticipated, Butler came on in a long relief role. Entering in the tenth inning, he tossed seven frames in what could easily be known as the ‘Eddie Butler Game’.

In his seven innings of work, Butler looked sharp. He allowed just four hits and one walk and struck out five. Butler was ultimately charged with the loss, as the game-winning run was credited to him when Brandon Morrow came in in the 17th inning. The Cubs’ new closer promptly allowed a game-winning single.

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Despite getting the loss, though, Butler’s performance showed the impact that he could have this season in the Cubs bullpen.

Last year, the only Cubs reliever who pitched in long-relief on a regular basis was Mike Montgomery. Now, if Butler can serve that role as well, the Cubs will have more depth at that role in case of an injury in the rotation.

Last year, Butler, who was traded to the Cubs from the Colorado Rockies in February 2017, was mainly a starter for Chicago while Kyle Hendricks was out with an injury.

In 11 starts and two relief appearances in 2017, Butler had the best year of his four-year MLB career. He finished with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.430 WHIP for the season. In his three seasons in Colorado, he averaged a 6.50 ERA and 1.770 WHIP.

Now, if Cubs starters avoid injury, Butler can be a key piece of the Chicago bullpen going forward, as he will have to stay in Chicago since he is out of minor league options.

Next: Offense goes quiet in 17-inning loss to Miami

On a night when Kyle Hendricks pitched well, Eddie Butler stole the show. Going forward, he could play a big role in long relief for a bullpen that was much maligned down the stretch and in the postseason in 2017.