Cubs: Rowan Wick is beginning to trend in the right direction

Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

Rowan Wick was the best reliever in the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen last year before suffering an intercostal injury late in the season. The injury sidelined the right-hander for the remainder of the 2020, halting all momentum.

Wick finished the year with 17 1/3 innings across 19 appearances. The 28-year-old held a respectable 3.12 ERA — third among all Cubs relievers with substantive sample size. He also flexed a 2.67 FIP which would have put Wick in the top 30 of all relievers last season had he qualified.

As reported by Chicago Sun-Times Cubs beat reporter Russell Dorsey on Sunday, Wick is showing substantial improvement and is set to increase the distance of his throwing program to 105 feet starting Monday. Per Dorsey, manager David Ross provided an update to Wick’s progression.

"“He’s on a throwing program and looks really good. I think he’s in a really good place. He turned a corner a couple of weeks ago. He’s going to be at 105 [feet] tomorrow and we’ve got an off day Tuesday. [He threw] back-to-back days at 90 [feet]. The ball was coming out really good. I’ve talked to him, he feels like he’s in a good place. … I know he’s letting it rip pretty good.”"

Hearing this news should excite both the team and fans alike. Over the final nine appearances before being shut down, Wick posted a 1.08 ERA along with a 1.63 FIP and 2.79 xFIP. Wick also registered a ridiculous 33.3 percent strikeout rate to go with a walk rate just north of ten percent. The right-hander hard-hit rate was only 26.3 percent.

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Our own Payton Havermann discussed the construction of the perfect bullpen heading into 2021, and Wick is right there in the discussion as a guy who can and should be counted on in higher leverage situations.

In a Cubs uniform, Wick has a considerably small sample size in high-leverage situations per FanGraphs. Categorically he has thrown just 11 2/3 innings. Unfortunately, in that span, Wick has posted a 5.40 ERA.

However, in a positive shift, the righty has not allowed a home run and has held opposing hitters to a paltry .114 average. He has also registered a WHIP of 1.03 and has limited his hard-hit rate to 29.2 percent. Even more impressive has been the 60.9 percent ground ball rate, meaning most of the medium and hard contact Wick has allowed is putting the defense in a position to make a play.

In 50 2/3 innings with the Cubs, Wick boasts a 2.66 ERA and has allowed one home run. The guy knows how to keep the ball in the park. To add to the zeal of an already impressive resume, Wick owns a 2.77 FIP as well as an inter-divisional 1.20 ERA over 30 innings of work.

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Undoubtedly nobody wishes Craig Kimbrel to get blown up this season. Having said that, Wick would decidedly slide into the closer role if that were to happen. That journey for Wick begins with a full recovery that is all too important to a Cubs team looking to repeat as National League Central division champs in 2021.