The Cubs fell last night to the Braves 5-1, the second 1 run performance against Atlanta in the series. This season, the offense has struggled to score runs outside of the 21-0 win against Pittsburgh.
One bright spot in the first few weeks has been the Cubs bullpen. David Robertson and Keegan Thompson have deserved and received most of the good publicity. After last night’s outing where Scott Effross pitched two scoreless innings, it is time he stops flying under the radar.
College Career and Draft
Scott Effross is 28 years old and was drafted by the Cubs in the 15th round of the 2015 June Amateur Draft. This marked two years in a row that the Cubs drafted someone out of Indiana University, with the first being Kyle Schwarber. Effross and Schwarber played two seasons together, winning two B1G championships and making Indiana’s 1st College World Series in 2013. Indiana went 93-31 in those years.
In his three seasons at Indiana, Effross notched a record of 15-8 with 12 saves. 178.2 innings with a 1.075 WHIP in 81 games was solid enough for Scott to be drafted by Chicago. 81 appearances are the 4th most for a pitcher in Indiana Baseball history. Effross only gave up four home runs in his college career, a trend that has continued to the Major Leagues.
Scott Effross has a four-pitch mix; a 4-seam fastball, a sinker, a slider, and a changeup. The sinker and slider get most of the work though, with each being thrown over 35% of the time. These breaking pitches have led to an average exit velocity of 80.4 mph, which is in the top 1% of baseball.
His 22.7% hard-hit percent is in the 6th percentile. The xWOBA and xERA are both in the 3rd percentile as well. Exit velocities, launch angles, hard contact percentages, and all the “advanced” metrics are confirming that Effross has been excellent in 2022.
Making it to The Show in 2021
After Scott battled in the minor leagues from 2014-2019 and had no 2020 season, 2021 turned over a new leaf in his baseball career. Effross threw 60 successful innings between Tennessee and Iowa and was promoted to the Major League roster.
Effross appeared in 14 games in 2021, throwing 14.2 innings with a 0.95 WHIP and K/BB ratio of 18 to 1! He only allowed two home runs and finished two games too, demonstrating reliability in the late innings. Although it was not a high-pressure situation, he showed this again against Pittsburgh last Saturday.
Scott Effross strikes out Michael Chavis swinging to record the final out of the game pic.twitter.com/8s3nKqzYnd
— Cubs Highlights (@Cubs_Highlights) April 23, 2022
Early Success in 2022
Last night marked the ninth appearance for Effross this year, and he has not given up a run yet. 11 strikeouts, one walk, and a 0.889 WHIP all indicate that Scott will continue to be a reliable arm out of the bullpen. Seeing another reliever able to go multiple innings is crucial, especially when the starting pitching has struggled to get past the sixth.
The bullpen will be instrumental in keeping the Cubs in games, especially with the offense not being as productive. Thompson and Robertson join Effross as Cubs’ relievers with a WHIP under 1. Although they have had fewer opportunities, Michael Rucker and Daniel Norris have offered good relief options for David Ross as well. Take a look at Ed’s article here for a deeper dive into the 2022 Cubs’ bullpen.