Chicago Cubs look to replace Brian Duensing in the bullpen

(Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Most took note of the Chicago Cubs sending Ian Happ to Triple-A Iowa. But the DFA of Brian Duensing could have a more immediate impact on the team.

Many were shocked when they saw that the Chicago Cubs’ Ian Happ would begin the year in Triple-A Iowa. That shocking development covered a less obvious one, as Brian Duensing was DFA ‘d (designated for assignment) on the same day. After an impressive first season with the Cubs in 2017 that earned him a two-year deal before last season, it’s been all downhill from there.

It’s been a combination of injuries (shoulder fatigue) mixed with declining results in just over a season. In 2018, Duensing saw his K/9 innings fall from 8.8 to 5.7, and his BB/9 jump from 2.6 to 6.9 from the previous season. That stat (a 0.83 SO/W) mixed with his HR/9 doubling from the year before spelled disaster.

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The second half saw him pitch just 10 1/3 innings, posting a 10.45 ERA with a BAbip of .314. Shoulder fatigue was said to be the cause of it, but it appears that it hasn’t rectified itself. After a strong start to the spring, things have turned for Duensing as he’s allowed six runs in his last two appearances–recording just two outs in those previous two outings. His HR/9 is 2.6 this spring, and that is against an opponent quality of 8.3 (roughly figured, Triple-A quality).

With what Duensing is owed ($3.5 million is 2019), it’s possible he could make it through waivers and choose to take a minor-league assignment with the Cubs. But even then, he’s still going to start in Triple-A. So when we are looking at lefties to take his place, who are the candidates?