Chicago Cubs: Kyle Ryan has a huge opportunity at his feet in 2020

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs reliever Kyle Ryan had a surprisingly solid 2019 and has the opportunity to be the team’s go-to left-hander out of the pen in 2020.

Throughout the 2019 campaign, Chicago Cubs left-hander Kyle Ryan consistently surprised a lot of folks. Detroit drafted Ryan, 28, in 2010 and he floated around in their system before making his debut in 2014. He bounced back and forth between the Tigers and the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens for much of the next year or so before finally putting together his breakout showing in 2016.

That year, the southpaw posted a 3.07 ERA and 1.132 WHIP across 56 appearances. In 2017, he was demoted back to Triple-A Toledo and elected free agency following that season. That’s where the Cubs come in. In December 2017, Ryan signed a minor league contract with the Cubs.

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However, it wasn’t until April 2019 that he received any big league action. In his debut against the Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan came into the game in relief while the Cubs had the lead. However, things didn’t go as expected as he pitched two innings and gave up four hits, a walk and two earned runs. Thankfully, the Cubs still went on to beat the Brewers by a score of 14-8. For Ryan, this was a starting point as he went on to improve from there.

Immediately after his first outing, Ryan began seeing improvement until that washed itself away as he found himself posting a less than ideal 5.40 ERA over the month of May.

Yet, in June, everything changed. Ryan reached a turning point and became a more frequently used arm out of the pen. While the bullpen as a whole was weak and was a major factor in the Cubs missing the postseason, Ryan held his own.

Ryan ended 2019 with a 3.54 ERA across 61 innings pitched with a slightly above higher 3.85 FIP. He finished the season with a 1.377 WHIP, one of several things that can definitely be improved upon as Ryan builds on his 2019 success heading into 2020.

The Auburndale, FL native was particularly effective against left-handed bats, limiting them to a .571 OPS on the year. He was definitely stronger at home than on the road – so finding more consistency in that regard will help matters moving forward, as well.

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With the upcoming season in mind, Ryan could remain one of the most prominent, if not the most prominent lefty making appearances out of the bullpen. Hopefully he will continue to be a strong arm in the pen as the Cubs look to compete this coming season.