Chicago Cubs: Letting Phillip Ervin go was a bad move
By Erik Mauro
The Chicago Cubs have struggled against left-handed pitching in recent years, and recently they let one of the only guys on the roster who’s had success in those situations walk out the door.
Phillip Ervin was designated for assignment after the Cubs re-signed Cameron Maybin and added Jake Marisnick last week. The writing was on the wall for Ervin, but in his career he has a 113 wRC+ against southpaws and a 141 wRC+ vs lefties on the road. His career slash of .277/.352/.459 is nothing to write off. The Cubs originally claimed Ervin off waivers from the Mariners in December. He was picked up by the Braves days after being designated by the Cubs.
This one just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Chicago needs players that can hit against southpaws. Here are some of the wRC+ and slash lines of current right-handed hitters when facing lefties:
- David Bote: 89 wRC+, .212/.315/.388.
- Nico Hoerner: 79, .261/.314/.348.
- Javier Baez: 125, .291/.341/.531
- Maybin: 85, .248/.313/.354
- Joc Pederson: 59, .191/.266/.310.
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Maybin and Pederson, two new editions to the team, both hit lefties worse than Ervin. The scary part is that they are going to let Pederson play every day. Granted, 345 PA vs LHP is not a huge sample, but the returns are not encouraging. Maybe once Pederson gets comfortable in the box, he’ll figure it out.
Baez is one of, if not the only player on that list that can hit left-handed pitching consistently. A Major League roster needs more one of those guys – a pinch-hitter that can come in vs a lefty when needed, an offensive left-handed specialist, so to speak. Ervin could have been that guy, and the Cubs just let him go and will face the same problems against left-handersthat they have in past years.
Cubs: Yet another delay in “philosophy change”
It’s been the talk for years. The organization needs a change in philosophy when it comes to the offense. There’s too much low-contact, high-reward approaches. It will be more of the same this year. It’s time for Chicago to stop talking about it and just do it.
Hoerner has not been a very valuable offensive player by the metrics but he makes a lot of contact which is good for the team. He was rushed to the big leagues and starting in the minor leagues is the best course of action for him.
Like Hoerner, Ervin would signal a philosophy change moving forward, just in different ways. Ervin would curb the struggles against southpaws, and Hoerner adds contact. Instead, the Braves get another offensive weapon, because they need more of those.
Nothing Ervin does jumps off the page, but he has one pronounced skill that is valuable for all teams. Fans should just hope for the best, but you can expect to see some struggles offensively again this year for the Cubs, especially when offensive output against lefties might be lacking again.