I pay much closer attention to the Cubs than the rest of MLB, but it does seem like they’ve signed more pitchers than most teams this offseason. They kind of needed to this winter because although the team has good depth in the minors, those guys aren’t quite ready for the majors just yet. The bullpen could always use some competition and that’s why Jed Hoyer continues to bring on guys who have had prior success in the big leagues.
According to The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney, the Cubs have signed right-handed pitcher Tyler Duffey.
The 32-year-old made his MLB debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2015, and Duffey was good, making 10 starts in his rookie campaign. He posted a 3.10 ERA in 58 innings in 2015, but Duffey’s run in Minnesota’s starting rotation didn’t last long. After a disappointing 2016, when Duffey’s ERA soared above 6 in 26 starts, he was moved to the bullpen.
At first, Duffey’s results remained poor as a reliever, posting a 5.53 ERA in 96 innings over 75 appearances in 2017 and 2018 combined. During the 2018 season, the Twins demoted Duffey multiple times down to Triple-A and he only made 19 relief outings in the big leagues for Minnesota. However, something eventually clicked with Duffey after that season and from 2019-21, he became a valuable pitcher in the Twins’ bullpen.
From 2019-21, Duffey pitched in 144 games, all as a reliever, logged 144 innings, and pitched to a 2.69 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, while striking out nearly 11 batters per nine innings. Really damn good.
But of course there’s a reason Duffey is signing a minor league deal this offseason. Last year with the Twins, Duffey was brutal in his 40 outings, recording a 4.91 ERA in 44 innings. The strikeout numbers went down, his ground ball rate lowered and batters were hitting more line drives against him than before.
It didn’t help that Duffey’s main pitches kept getting demolished, and well, that becomes easier when they’re right down the middle of the plate.
So, add Duffey to the bullpen competition for the Cubs this spring training. That will certainly be one of the major storylines in Arizona leading up to Opening Day in terms of guys trying to win jobs as well as the fifth starter’s spot.
As a reminder, MLB teams are limited to a maximum of 13 pitchers on their active 26-man rosters from Opening Day until roster expands to 28 players in September, when teams can then have a maximum of 14 pitchers on their active roster.
The Cubs will most likely still add one more reliever heading into spring training. There has been recent chatter about the team looking at specifically left-handed relievers. You can read more about some potential options here, including old friend Andrew Chafin.
We talked about what signing Chafin means not only for the Cubs chances of raising their competitive ceiling in 2023, but what his signing could mean for Cubs fans, too, on this week’s Pinwheels And Ivy Podcast.
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