Wednesday, April 17, 2024

All-Star Pitchers on Cubs Radar


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The Chicago Cubs were apparently interested to some extent in right-handed pitcher Jakob Junis, before he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers and their pursuit of more pitching has also extended to two former all-stars. According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Cubs are one of a handful of teams that have been “keeping tabs” on free agents Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen.

Sure, not exciting, especially in the case of Syndergaard, but Lorenzen could be an intriguing add if he’s used properly. We’ll get into that a bit later.

Via Jon Morosi.

As many MLB camps open this week, the Padres, Pirates, Twins, Cubs and Rays are among clubs keeping tabs on rotation depth options, including free agents Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen.

Here’s the segment from MLB Network.

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Let’s begin with Lorenzen. The 32-year-old pitcher is probably most likely remembered by Cubs fans from his time with the Cincinnati Reds. That’s where he started his MLB career, making his big-league debut in 2015. He made 21 starts and 27 overall appearances in his rookie season before becoming a primary reliever.

However, Lorenzen never let his goal of being a starter die and heading into the 2022 season the right-handed pitcher signed a one-year deal to join the Los Angeles Angels rotation. He made 18 starts and finished the season with a 4.24 ERA. Unfortunately, Lorenzen missed time with a strain in his right shoulder.

Despite the injury, Lorenzen earned another shot as a starter, signing with the Detroit Tigers for the 2023 season. Lorenzen was pretty good in the first half, recording a 3.58 ERA in 105.2 innings through his first 18 starts for Detroit. The right-hander was selected to represent the Tigers in the All-Star Game and then he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 1.

Lorenzen was great in his first two starts with the Phillies, including pitching a no-hitter on Aug. 9. Even through the end of August, Lorenzen had a 3.73 ERA in 23 starts. Any team will take that type of production from one of their starting pitchers. But then, Lorenzen might have lost some gas because he did struggle down the stretch and was eventually moved to the bullpen.

So, on one hand you do have some evidence that Lorenzen can be an effective starting pitcher. However, it’s probably a tough sell for teams because Lorenzen just does not have an established track record as a solid starter.

Michael Lorenzen Career Splits
As SP: 4.41 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 375.1 IP, 6.9 K/9
As RP: 3.79 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 348.2 IP, 8.1 K/9

I mean, even in his last two seasons, where the majority of his starting time has come, Lorenzen hasn’t exactly proven to be anything more than a 4-5 starter, posting a 4.13 ERA in 43 starts, with some bad peripherals.

So, why would the Cubs even be interested? Well, Lorenzen could be a solid reliever and he has been a stud at times when he’s been fully dedicated to the bullpen. From 2016-19, Lorenzen recorded a 3.43 ERA in 283.2 innings, including sub-3 ERAs in 2016 and 2019, respectively.

Seeing that the Cubs were reportedly interested in Junis, a guy who has also been a swing-man during his MLB career, maybe it’s not surprising to see the Cubs being linked to Lorenzen. The Cubs are probably trying to convince Lorenzen to be a full-time reliever and if his market isn’t strong and there aren’t guarantees from other teams that he’ll be a starter, then the Cubs could swoop in and maybe sell him on the idea of being a depth starter with the intention of primarily using him out of the bullpen.

I know injuries are going to pop up and you can never have enough pitching, but man, I don’t really see the fit here. The Cubs already have guys like Hayden Wesneski, Javier Assad and Drew Smyly who can do what Lorenzen has potential to do. I wouldn’t be against a Lorenzen signing, but not sure if it makes the most sense right now.

As for Noah Syndergaard? He’s cooked, man. At the end of the day, if the Cubs do bring him in, it’s literally zero risk. Minor league deal and Syndergaard either looks OK, fine, he looks bad and he’s gone. No harm, no foul, but at this point after so many injuries and his awful 2023 season, I just don’t think Syndergaard is going to rebound this time around. Syndergaard’s All-Star days are way in the past.

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