Another day, another bullpen arm signed by the Cubs in righty Joe Biagini.
Biagini has appeared in 221 career games, making 22 starts across parts of five seasons in the Major Leagues. He has had better success as a reliever with a 4.59 ERA in 199 appearances. In his 22 starts, he has a 6.08 ERA in 106 2/3 innings, to go with an .806 OPS.
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Biagini’s numbers aren’t anything to write home about with a career 5.07 ERA and a .283/.346/.458 opponent slash line. However, he’s a lot better against right handers than left-handers, something you can bet the team is well aware of.
Right-handed hitters carry a .266/.332/.411 line against Biagini (.743 OPS). Lefties? Well, that’s another story, as they have tagged him for a .306/.365/.520 line (.885 OPS).
The big thorn in his side? The long-ball. He’s allowed home runs on 16.5 percent of his fly balls, according to Fangraphs. Now, the site says an ‘awful’ home run-fly ball rate for a pitcher is 13 percent. Clearly, he’ll need to improve here if he’s to have any success for the Cubs.
Wrigley Field isn’t exactly a pitcher’s park, but depending on the wind direction it can certainly play like one, so that could help Biagini figure it out. The Cubs found success with a former Blue Jays reliever last season in Ryan Tepera, who is once again a free agent – and a potential target of Jed Hoyer. The Cubs are hoping to find that same magic with Biagini.
The Cubs signed Jonathan Holder to a one-year deal worth $750,000 recently, as well. Holder pitched in 157 games for the New York Yankees over parts of five seasons. He has a career 4.38 ERA with a 3.85 FIP.
Given what we know about Yankee Stadium and how much of a sandbox that park can be, those are very good numbers. Holder is a fly ball pitcher but has only given up home runs on nine percent of his fly balls, which will play well in Wrigley. In short, he knows how to keep the ball in the ballpark.
It will be interesting to see how the Cubs use Biagini. If they can keep him as a one-inning reliever, they may be able to maximize him and have some success, but if they try to use him as a spot starter or somebody to pitch multiple innings, they might run into a lot of the same trouble he’s experienced to this point in his career.