Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist were not only two key players on the 2016 World Series champion Chicago Cubs , but they also both recorded strikeouts as pitchers against All-Star-caliber players. Yeah, the strikeouts of Rizzo on Freddie Freeman and Zobrist on Yadier Molina were fun in the moment, but the circumstances of those guys being on the mound were not. Why? Because they came in blowout losses.
The struggles of the Cubs the past few years have seen a number of blowout losses, and thus a need to bring in position players from time to time just to save some bullets in the bullpen. On Friday, Chicago was crushed by the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, and Frank Schwindel became the 11th different Cubs position player to take the mound since the start of the 2019 season. These things are usually fairly rare, but they have become more frequent…which is not exactly a good thing.
Cubs calling on position players to pitch far more frequently of late
Since 2019, the 11 Cubs position players to make at least one appearance to pitch include Rizzo, Zobrist, Schwindel, Victor Caratini, Daniel Descalso, Taylor Davis, Eric Sogard, Andrew Romine, Matt Duffy, Sergio Alcantara and Andrelton Simmons.
Sogard made five appearances as a Cub in 2021 and Caratini made two in 2019. All the others made one. Worth noting that Rizzo made his first appearance on the mound in 2018, but we are focusing on the appearances over the past four seasons. A number of these guys probably never dreamed they would be pitching in a professional game prior to their appearances. In fact, Zobrist striking out Molina was his final action in an MLB game.
Cumulatively, these guys pitched 13 2/3 innings across 16 appearances, posting a 10.23 ERA and striking out four. They did not need to call upon a position player to pitch in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Not as surprising considering their pitching was pretty good that season.
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Hopefully there are not too many more position players needing to come into a game in the near future. Though, right now it feels like we will not see the last of that for the time being.