Cubs News: Colin Rea showing promise in small sample size

Colin Rea, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
Colin Rea, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /

With the Chicago Cubs searching for ways to solve bullpen woes, Colin Rea could be someone that could be a long-term solution.

In January 2019, the Chicago Cubs brought in RHP Colin Rea to help give the team some potential pitching depth. Rea, 29, had appeared in 28 major league games back in 2015-2016 between the Padres and Marlins, 25 of them were starts. Last year with Triple-A Iowa, he was the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year as he sported a 3.95 ERA and 1.4 WHIP in 26 starts.

He finally got the call back to the majors back in late July to have an opportunity to pitch again. He was one of those fringe options to make the initial roster and possibly the rotation, though he was likely never getting a spot there to start the year. He finally pitched in the majors again for the first time since 2016 on August 5th in Kansas City.

So far, he has pitched in two games and three full innings. Not much of a sample size, but there are reasons to look at what he has done so far and be optimistic about what he can do down the road for the big league club.

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In those three innings, Rea sports a 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP, 1.03 FIP and three strikeouts vs. no walks. His fastball is mainly sitting around 93-94 MPH while hitting a few 95-96 MPH. He has also mixed in cutter, sinker, curve and change. He has a nice arsenal of pitches and so far has located them very well. 73% of his pitches thrown have been strikes.

If his small sample size in 2020 is any indicator, he is a guy that can miss some bats and also get some grounders with his sinking stuff. Throughout his professional career, 45.5% of batted balls against him are on the ground vs. 32% in the air and 22.7% on a line. What will make or break him is his ability to keep his command in good shape.

Since he is a starter by trade, having him as a long-relief option is also a big plus. Right now, there is no official timetable for Jose Quintana, so the starting/long-relief depth on the team is a bit thin. He can serve multiple purposes in the bullpen if he continues to pitch well. Theo Epstein has had a history of finding effective relievers in unexpected places, so let’s hope this is another one.

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If Rea can work out and others like Jeremy Jeffress, Ryan Tepera and Rowan Wick can pitch well down the stretch as well, then we might be able to feel a bit better about the pen.