While the Chicago Cubs search for bullpen solutions, they didn’t feel Tazawa was one as they released him from Triple-A Iowa.
It seems like the Chicago Cubs‘ Theo Epstein has to give former members of the Red Sox at least a chance. The Cubs signed Junichi Tazawa to a minor-league deal this winter, and he pitched in the spring, recording 5 2/3 innings of shutout baseball. And even though the Cubs are searching for bullpen help, they didn’t feel Tazawa would be of any help to that cause.
While in Boston, Tazawa was a strong piece in the bullpen. Once he became a fixture in their pen from 2012-16, he posted an ERA of 3.20. He signed a two-year deal before the 2017 season wit the Miami Marlins and wasn’t near as productive as he was in Boston. In Miami, he carried a 6.57 ERA which led to his release last May. He caught on with the Los Angeles Angels before the end of the season but pitched just eight innings with the Halos.
The idea was Tazawa might be helpful in middle-innings as Brandon Morrow was going to miss the start of the season (which turned out to be much longer), and the rest of the bullpen would be sliding back an inning or two. But the bullpen was going to need more than Tazawa.
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The Cubs released him at the end of March, but the two sides came together quickly and worked out another minor-league deal. He went to extended spring training and eventually pitched 18 innings in 19 appearances in Iowa, posting a 4.00 ERA.
Tazawa has lost velocity on the fastball, according to Fangraphs, dropping from a high of 94.9 mph in 2014 with Boston, down to 92 mph this season. Tazawa is only 33 years old, and someone will likely take a chance on him considering several teams need bullpen help.
It may seem odd, releasing a bullpen arm when we’re in search of bullpen help. But the Cubs ideally need a left-hander and knowing Epstein had Tazawa in Boston; it may be in part to respect for Tazawa allowing him to try and catch on with another team.
It was a low-risk move from the start and didn’t hurt the Cubs in any fashion. Hopefully, Tazawa will catch on somewhere else, preferably in the American League. We don’t need to see him pitching out of his mind the rest of the season with someone in the Central. Nope. No good at all.