3 Chicago Cubs Players to Watch in the World Baseball Classic
Roenis Elias will be suiting up for Cuba in the WBC. He was signed by the Cubs this off-season and is someone that could prove to be very valuable in the bullpen this year. He has pitched 395 2/3 innings in his major league career. He began as a starter for the Mariners but was moved to the bullpen in recent years. In those innings, he has a 3.96 ERA and a respectable 1.32 WHIP. Despite his usage out of the bullpen in recent years, he started in the Dominican Republic winter league and dominated. He had a sub-1 ERA and WHIP in 39 innings pitched. In those innings, he struck out 38 and gave up just 20 hits.
The Cubs will be without a few relievers to start the season, and they were already lacking a left-handed bullpen arm. If Elias can be anywhere near the form he was in during the winter league, he is going to be a weapon in the backend of the Cubs' bullpen. Playing in the WBC gives Elias a chance to face more major league hitting and prove the winter league was not a fluke.
It will be interesting to see if Cuba uses Elias as a starter or reliever, but if he is seen in Chicago this year, it will be as a bullpen piece. After throwing 39 innings in the winter league, it can be assumed that Cuba and the Cubs do not want to give him a heavier workload. With all that said, Elias is not on the 40-man roster but he did get invited to spring training. If he wants an opening day roster spot, he has to continue his dominance from the winter league into spring training and the WBC.