Chicago Cubs midseason acquisition Brad Wieck had a rollercoaster season in 2019. Did he do enough this year to be used in high-leverage situations in 2020?
It’s safe to say Brad Wieck won’t soon forget the 2019 season. The left-hander started the year with a cancer diagnosis and ended it playing in a pennant race after coming to the Chicago Cubs in a deadline deal.
Wieck didn’t have much of a Spring Training in 2019 because of surgery causing him to not be able to work out at all before the season. He only saw live batters twice before the start of the season in San Diego.
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During his time with the Padres in 2019, Wieck struggled. The big six-foot nine-inch left-hander had a 6.57 ERA in 24 2/3 innings of work. Not what you are looking for out of the bullpen.
At the same time, Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. was continuing to struggle. The Cubs and Padres decided to swap the two bullpen arms hoping a change of scenery would help both pitchers find their way. The trade was a small deal in the eyes of the baseball world but one that both teams involved hoped would be impactful.
After a few minor league appearances, the Cubs sent Wieck down to Arizona to visit the pitch lab to work on a new pitch. That new pitch was a “spiked curveball” one that was picked up by Yu Darvish, Craig Kimbrel and Rowan Wick.
The Cubs helped Wieck find himself again as he posted some good numbers with the team down the stretch. Wieck had a 3.60 ERA and 2.71 FIP in 10 innings of work. Granted, that’s a very small sample size but you still love to see someone like this put up a 0.600 WHIP in his first stretch with a contending ball club regardless.
In the season’s final month, he limited opponents to a sterling .063 average. It’s hard to see these kinds of numbers are not think the Cubs might have something special on their hands.
Wieck quickly learned how to effectively integrate that spiked curveball into his repertoire. One instance, in particular, will surely stick in the minds of Cubs fans for a good long while. In a game against the Seattle Mariners, Wieck broke off a breaker that forced Kyle Seager to duck out of the way, thinking he’d be hit by the pitch.
Instead, it broke back over the dish for a called strike. When pitchers of any age make hitters look like that in the batter’s box, they are clearly doing something right.
Looking forward to 2020 Wieck could very well wind up seeing more high-leverage innings. After being thrust into this role late in September with Brandon Kintzler and Craig Kimbrel both on the IL, he showed up when it mattered – and the Chicago Cubs won’t forget that come next spring.