Relief pitching has been a subject of concern for fans with the Chicago Cubs going into 2023.
While the fans want a better bullpen, it seems the team is instead making odd roster moves with said bullpen.
It’s no secret how bad the Cubs were last season with relief pitching.
If they want to contend this season, they need better arms in their bullpen.
The Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Julian Merryweather off waivers from the Blue Jays and DFA’d right-handed pitcher Manuel Rodríguez to make room on the 40-man roster.
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) January 17, 2023
What makes the move odd is how Rodriguez is statistically better than Merryweather.
In 26 games during last season, Merryweather had a 0-3 record while having a 6.75 ERA and a 1.425 WHIP.
But for Rodriguez, he had a 2-0 record with four saves in 2022 while having a 3.29 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.
So why pick up someone off waivers who has worse numbers over the 26-year-old reliever?
The answer might come from his fastball.
While he’s 31 years old, he still has a high-heat fastball.
However, his fastball is a disaster, as his RV/100 is much higher than expected over the past two seasons.
Interesting tale of 2 stories here of stuff vs results for new Cub Julian Merryweather. You see below that his 4SFB yielded a 493 xwOBA despite being a 60/80 pitch on @Pitching_Bot scale. Look at the last pic – the gap in expected and actual results with the pitch was stunning. pic.twitter.com/7XdB3NuvfA
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) January 17, 2023
His WHIFF percentage is also much lower on his fastball versus his other pitches from the 2022 season.
While the Cubs might like the speed with which he can deliver his fastball at his age, the pitch continues to put him in danger.
But it’s possible the team feels they can work with his fastball, or get him to use his other pitches more often.
Either way, getting a player who will be a work-in-progress is the wrong move when you had someone you were already working with.