Chicago Cubs: Time to end the Allen Webster experiment

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Coming into the season, among the Chicago Cubs’ many questions was the bullpen. The Cubs have been so good with reclamation projects; they tried another one this year. But is it working?

Before getting to the Chicago Cubs, Allen Webster couldn’t quite ever get right with the Red Sox. I know, a former Red Sox player coming to play for his former boss. Shocker, right?

Webster pitched parts of two seasons with the Red Sox, making 18 starts with a 6.25 ERA. During his time with the Red Sox, he had a 5.08 FIP and walked 46, striking out just 59 in 89 1/3 innings. Boston gave up on him and traded him to Arizona. He made five starts there, pitching in nine games, with a 5.81 ERA and an 8.36 FIP. Control issues were still there, walking 20 in 31 innings, just 17 strikeouts.

After being out of baseball for a little over a year, the Cubs signed Webster last year and called him up in September to be a reliever. He made three appearances, pitching to a six ERA with an 8.49 FIP.

He started this season in the minor leagues and was called up shortly after the Cubs’ bullpen had a disastrous start. So far, Webster has made ten appearances, has a four ERA, and in nine innings has given up 11 hits, walked two, struck out seven, and a career low(yikes) 5.12 FIP. In 13 total appearances with the Cubs, he has a 5.96 FIP. For his career, he has been worth -2.3 WAR.

However, all of his runs have come in just three appearances, and the one save he got was a hard lineout to the wall in extra innings.

Moral of the story is that Webster’s raw stuff is Major League worthy; it’s a matter of placement and command. Webster has never seemed to have it, but sometimes bad starters make excellent relievers. Webster could very well still be getting his feet wet in the Majors again. He is 29, though, and it’s not like pitchers age super well, unless your name is Cole Hamels or C.C Sabathia.

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Joe Maddon trusts Webster so much he brings him into low leverage spots only or mop-up duty. There is nothing wrong with trying to still make Webster have a successful Major League career, but the Cubs need guys they can trust in the bullpen, and if Webster isn’t going to ever be one, then what are we really doing here?