Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Cubs Lose Two Players to Free Agency

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It is that time of the season when players who have not made it on to a team’s 40-man roster that have previously signed minor league deals can elect free agency. The Cubs signed a bunch of relievers to minor league contracts this past offseason and on Thursday they lost two right-handed pitchers to free agency.



It’s not really that big of a surprise because although the Cubs have been struggling to maintain consistency in the bullpen, it didn’t really seem like either Tyler Duffey or Vinny Nittoli were on the verge of getting a shot. According to Robert Murray, Duffey and Nittoli are both opting out of their deals with the Cubs.

It is always difficult to look at relievers numbers on a stat sheet and try to determine if they have been good or not. You immediately look at Duffey’s 4.43 ERA and think who cares, he’s been bad. However, especially for relief pitchers, one or two bad appearances can make that ERA look a lot worse than it is.

Duffey made 18 appearances for the Iowa Cubs and it really was just two bad relief outings the veteran right-hander. The 32-year-old allowed a total of 11 earned runs in 22.1 innings, but 8 of those runs came in two appearances that covered one inning. So besides that, Duffey’s other 16 relief outings were awesome, posting a 1.27 ERA in 21.1 innings.

But again, the Cubs have a few other young relievers up at Triple-A, plus a returning Codi Heuer that could join the major league bullpen later this summer, so it’s not like Duffey was high on the priority list.

That’s kind of the same for Nittoli, who is also 32-years-old, but has never had much of a shot in the majors, amassing a total of three MLB innings between the Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies.

Triple-A Relievers to Chicago Soon?

The Cubs will not be rushing back right-handed reliever Codi Heuer, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery. He’s been pitching at Triple-A since May 6, and in nine relief appearances, he’s allowed eight earned runs. Three of those came on May 18, when Heuer was only able to record one out.

Heuer has been throwing in the high 90s, while touching 100mph at times with his fastball. Heuer started the year on the 60-day injured list, so he was eligible to come back in late May, but the Cubs are looking toward the middle of June as the target for Heuer’s return to the big league bullpen.

Daniel Palencia, who has been moved from the starting rotation at Double-A to the bullpen at Triple-A, has made three relief outings with the Iowa Cubs. The 23-year-old has a big arm and the Cubs have already had thoughts of calling him up, so he’ll definitely be on the radar if he puts up good results. So far he’s allowed one run, while striking out four batters in three innings at Triple-A.

Left-handed pitcher Bailey Horn could also be an option for the MLB bullpen this year, as the 25-year-old made it up to Triple-A earlier this season and has been great for the Iowa Cubs. In 10 appearances, Horn has posted a 2.45 ERA, striking out 12 in 11 innings.

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Carlijn Hannah
Carlijn Hannah
Jun 1, 2023 4:46 pm

This season

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