Cubs: Lefty bullpen depth takes another hit as Kyle Ryan is optioned

Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images /

The Chicago Cubs made more roster moves on Friday, and a familiar name was optioned off the spring training roster. Kyle Ryan, a key member of the bullpen for the past two seasons will start the season at Triple-A Iowa.

The move may come as bit of a surprise considering Ryan seemed to find his footing as a reliever. Over the past two seasons, Ryan has pitched in 91 games with a 3.87 ERA. He was also at many times the only left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen. That’s the biggest thing about this move, it takes away another lefty.

Currently the only left-handed arm slated to make the roster is Andrew Chafin. Brad Wieck, who has been battling an injury is also fighting for a spot, but he’s made some progress this spring after a couple appearances. Long-time journeyman Rex Brothers is also in the running for a spot in the bullpen.

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The main reason why Ryan was sent down is due to the fact he has yet to pitch in spring ball due to being on the COVID-19 restricted list. He has yet to build up his arm and letting him work on that down at Iowa is a good thing.

Ryan leads all Cubs relievers in appearances since his debut in 2019, so there is a chance that this assignment won’t last long at all. There is also the inverse where Chafin and Wieck/Brothers are so good that Ryan’s services are not needed. Wieck looked impressive in 2019 in his short time as a Cub, in 14 games in 2019 he pitched to a 3.60 ERA with 18 strikeouts over 10 innings, giving up just two hits.

He got hurt in his first appearance in 2020 and missed the rest of the season. The stuff is there, and so far this spring Wieck has two scoreless appearances with four strikeouts.

Cubs have a plan in place for Kyle Ryan

Brothers has also yet to give up a run in six spring appearances, so the battle for the second lefty spot in the bullpen (if the Cubs decide to go that route) will be a competitive one. It’s always news when a mainstay on a Major League team gets sent down or traded, but according to manager David Ross, this is just part of a plan for Ryan.

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Currently, Ryan is able to face hitters, but just needs a little more time to get ready for the grind of a full season. Given all the evidence at hand, he should not be away from Chicago for too long, but this gives another pitcher the chance to prove they belong. Now, it’s on those arms to step up.