Chicago Cubs Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been much maligned for how they have approached this season and their spending habits, or lack thereof. This trade deadline, they did what they needed to do.
The bullpen for the Chicago Cubs is massively overworked. It feels like Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek pitch six times a week. It’s become a three-man bullpen with Kyle Ryan also emerging. Epstein went out and acquired Derek Holland and David Phelps. Carl Edwards Jr. was also traded to the Padres for a change of scenery.
Holland has absolutely dominated left-handed hitters this season, holding them to just a .177/.270/.190 slash line. Holland has allowed one extra-base hit in 91 plate appearances against left-handers. Ryan has allowed a .230/.284/.279 slash line against left-handers. On the season, Cubs pitchers are allowing a .263/.338/.429 slash to lefties. Holland was needed.
On the surface, Holland doesn’t look like much, but how many times has this regime acquired a pitcher that makes us scratch our head but ends up being really good as a Cub?
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The Cubs added depth to the bullpen by acquiring Phelps from the Toronto Blue Jays. Phelps, a righty, will be able to give the Cubs some innings when other pitchers need a day off.
Believe it or not, Phelps has been better against lefties, giving up a .715 OPS as opposed to a .776 OPS to right-handed batters.
Phelps has been all over, debuting with the Yankees, being traded to the Marlins, and then Seattle. He missed all of 2018 with Tommy John surgery and has been working his way back this season.
One encouraging sign is that Phelps has a 1.13 ERA away from Toronto, albeit in just seven appearances.
Phelps is not expected to step right in as a late-inning reliever, but just spell guys and give an inning here and there when asked.
On the season, the Cubs have posted a .235/.319/.423 line against left-handed pitching with a 93 wRC+. The Cubs make contact at just 73.3 percent of pitches this season, that’s good for…*checks notes* LAST in the Major Leagues. Last. 30th. Worse than the Marlins, Orioles, and Tigers.
Kemp, who was DFA’d by the Astros last week, after having a case of ‘too many good players in front of him,’ was acquired for the recently traded for Martin Maldonado, makes contact 85.1 percent of the time, and at 90 percent of pitches in the strike zone.
That will be desperately needed for a Cubs’ offense desperately needing some consistent contact. He can play second base, which has been a black hole on offense, and that’s putting it nicely. He can also man both corner outfield spots. Kemp was exactly what the Cubs needed, a steady bench presence.
Castellanos should help a lot against left-handed pitching. Against lefties in his career, he has a .300/.354/.514 slash, and in 2019 it’s .347/.415/.611, and 11 out of his 25 hits vs LHP have been for extra bases. He will lengthen the lineup in a much-needed way against lefties. Another encouraging sign for Castellanos is his .284/.345/.514 line away from Tiger Stadium. The Friendly Confines should be very friendly to him.
Criticize the Ricketts’ family for cutting off funds, that’s fine. Criticize some of the moves the Front Office has made in years past, that’s also fine. But, it is wrong to say that the people in charge do not care. They made the changes necessary. It’s time for the players to step up.