Chicago Cubs: Kyle Ryan could bolster the Cubs bullpen in 2019

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Last week, the Chicago Cubs turned some heads (and left others scratching theirs) when they signed Kyle Ryan to a one-year Major League contract.

The Chicago Cubs had hoped to add left-handed relief depth to the pitching staff this offseason and the team may have found a dark horse piece in 27-year-old southpaw Kyle Ryan.

Let’s be clear. There’s no way Ryan is the only ‘new’ lefty Theo Epstein adds to the mix this winter. Why? Because the team’s primary southpaw reliever, Justin Wilson, is a free agent – leaving a gaping hole at the back of the pen from the left side.

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Taking a look at the potential left-handed options for the Cubs bullpen next season, Randy Rosario stands out. The young lefty put together an impactful breakout performance this year and has pretty much solidified his spot in the bullpen.

35-year-old Brian Duensing regressed in a big way last season after his stellar 2017 campaign. Two years ago, he turned in a 2.74 ERA in 68 appearances, but saw his ERA balloon to a whopping 7.65 in 2018, lending further questions to his viability as a go-to option.

With the aging Duensing a question mark going into next season, Ryan could be his replacement – at least in the short-term.

Ryan agreed to a minor league contract with the Chicago Cubs last December and spent the entirety of the 2018 season playing in Triple-A Iowa.  On Wednesday, the team signed him to a Major League deal.

Ryan had previously spent four seasons pitching in Detroit, as a member of the Tigers, where he appeared in 86 games ( seven starts) amassing a 3.87 career ERA.  While he holds a relatively small sample size, his only full season in the Majors came in 2016, when he appeared in 56 games, going 4-2 with a 3.07 ERA.

In 22 games in Iowa last season, Ryan pitched 66 innings with a 2.86 ERA.  The allure of Ryan comes from his low walk/high strikeout totals as well as proving he could be difficult for both left-handed (.237 opponent average) and right-handed hitters (.193 opponent average).

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If Ryan earns a spot on the Major League roster, he will stand to make a team friendly $700,000 salary. The lefty may be a key player going into next season and definitely a name to keep an eye on in 2019.