Chicago Cubs: No. 45 – James Russell
James Russell was a big part of the Chicago Cubs bullpen during the first half of the decade. He was drafted by the Seattle Mariners twice, once in 2004 and once in 2005, but did not sign either time. Then, in 2007, the Cubs drafted him in the 14th round, and he did sign. He made his big league debut with the Cubs in 2010.
Russell was just okay in his first season with the Cubs, posting a 4.96 ERA in 57 games, covering 49 innings out of the bullpen. As a left-hander, he was a lot more effective against left-handed hitting, holding them to a .238/.276/.450 line. In 2011, Russell got five starts and was not good, posting a 9.33 ERA, but in relief he was terrific, posting a 2.19 ERA in 59 games covering 49 1/3 innings. Again, he was better against left-handers.
Russell would put together two more solid years with the Cubs in 2012 and 2013, posting a 3.25 and 3.59 ERA, respectively, while making over 70 appearances both times. Then, in 2014, he made 44 appearances and put up a 3.51 ERA before being traded to the Atlanta Braves in the trade that brought Victor Caratini to the Cubs.
Russell came back to the Cubs in 2015 and post a 5.29 ERA in 49 games. After that, he briefly appeared with the Phillies in 2016, and that would be his last year in the majors. With lots of bullpen turnover early in the decade, Russell was a reliable left-handed arm for the Cubs.