Chicago Cubs: Randy Rosario proving his worth in team’s bullpen

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

There are a lot of “unsung heroes” that have saved the Chicago Cubs in the first half of the season, but maybe none more significant than 24-year-old lefty Randy Rosario.

When the Chicago Cubs dealt for Justin Wilson last summer, they thought they found their ‘go-to’ left-handed reliever. But after he struggled a great deal last season, we went into 2018 with some questions about what to expect from the former Tigers southpaw.

Thankfully, he’s rebounded nicely. In 38 appearances already this season, he’s recorded a 3.00 ERA, 3.46 FIP and 12.8 strikeouts per nine. But with Mike Montgomery filling a void in the starting rotation, the Cubs needed another lefty out in the left field bullpen.

In stepped Randy Rosario.

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Rosario is a left-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic who was signed by the Twins as a 16 -year old amateur free agent in August of 2010 and made his big league with the debut with the Twins in 2017.

He only made two appearances with the Twins before being placed on waivers and claimed by the Chicago Cubs last November.

His time with the Cubs

After an excellent spring, Rosario just missed making the big league Opening Day roster. He continued to pitch well at Triple-A Iowa. In 12 relief appearances, Rosario was nearly flawless. He pitched to a sparkling 0.47 ERA, only allowing ten hits and striking out 13, all while issuing just six walks.

With numbers like that, it was only a matter of time before Rosario got the call-up to the majors. That came in May. And, thus far, his successes at Triple-A Iowa have directly translated to the big league mound.

Entering the opener against the Giants, Rosario tallied 19 appearances. In these outings, he allowed just four earned runs – which translates to a stellar 1.50 earned run average. He has struck out 14 and allowed only 19 hits in 24 innings of work.  Monday, he built on that, turning in another scoreless frame, dropping his ERA to 1.44 on the year as the All-Star Break nears.

A first-half hero? You bet.

There are many reasons why Randy Rosario deserves some credit for what he has done for the Cubs so far. For some reference, he has more wins then starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood. Now, that’s not an ideal way to evaluate pitchers today. However, that does demonstrate an ability to step up in tight games and big moments.

Another lefty, Brain Duensing struggled so far this season. Because of that manager, Joe Maddon has been very reluctant to turn to him in high-leverage situations. You can’t throw Wilson every time you need a lefty. But, with Rosario in the mix, he has two quality arms out there on any given night.

Maddon’s go-to guy in the first half

With Mike Montgomery joining the rotation in place of the injured Yu Darvish Rosario has been working as more of a long man instead of a middle reliever.

In five of his 19 appearances, he has been asked to work multiple innings. In the majority of those cases, he has been trusted into situations where the Cubs are trailing by multiple runs. His task? Keep the game close and give the offense a realistic chance at coming back. Better yet, he’s done that just about every time out.

Underrated, but carrying a heavy load

Everbody on the entire planet knew the Cubs bullpen was going led by Brandon Morrow, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. However, all throw from the right side. Early in the season (and, to a degree as it carries on), concerns over the consistency of Duensing and Wilson permeate the team’s fans.

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But, thanks to Rosario’s emergence, the Cubs have gained another asset they can turn to with confidence – no matter the score or situation.