Chicago Cubs News: 3 positions battles to watch in Spring Training

Chicago Cubs v Miami Marlins
Chicago Cubs v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
2 of 3
Roenis Elias
Minnesota Twins v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

3 position battles - 2. Bullpen

Candidates - 3. Roenis Elias

Roenis Elias' seven appearances with the Mariners in '22 was his first run back in the majors since 2019. In those games, he recorded a 3.52 ERA. More importantly, Elias shined in the Dominican Winter League this winter, where he notched an impressive 1.01 ERA through his first 44.2 innings. Being a southpaw may give him a leg up on the competition, as the Cubs currently only have Brandon Hughes at the major league level. He is undoubtedly a pitcher you can see being called up at some point if he doesn't break camp with the big league roster altogether.

Candidates - 2. Jeremiah Estrada

Jeremiah Estrada was brought up to the Cubs last season and figures to be a vital piece to the Cubs' bullpen at some point, if not immediately. Last season, Estrada broke out in the minors, recording ERA's of 2.35 in High-A, 2.33 in Double-A, 0.00 in six innings at Triple-A, followed ultimately by a 3.18 in 5.2 frames with the Cubs as the season began to wind down. 2023 will be a big step forward for him, and where the front office may elect to have him brush up in Iowa to start the season, it will be hard to justify leaving him off the main roster if he has a fantastic Spring.

Candidates - 1. Tyler Duffey

The Cubs recently signed Tyler Duffey on a minor league deal but invited him to Spring Training. He will have as much opportunity to fight for a bullpen spot as anyone else, and his track record is perhaps the most promising of the three on this list. From 2019-2021, Duffey recorded a stellar 2.69 combined ERA over those three seasons before finally having a down year in 2022. Duffey will look to make changes to his pitch utilization rate.

His velocity averaged 1.7 mph slower than it did in 2019 and has gradually dipped ever since. Throwing the pitch at a 36% clipped allowed a line against him of .288/.368/.525, so mixing in some more sinkers and changeups, where he saw more success, is in order this time around. Nevertheless, he is an exciting pitcher to keep an eye on this Spring.