The Chicago Cubs added what presumes to be the final piece of their bullpen by re-signing pitcher Brian Duensing to a two-year, $7 million deal. With his signing, the Cubs continued their flood of offseason pitching acquisitions, likely ended the whispering that they might be interested in Greg Holland, and cemented themselves in the financial position to bring in the high-end starter we have been expecting since this snoozefest of an offseason started what feels like twelve years ago.
You can read Wrigleyville’s Patrick Brennan take a recent deep dive breakdown of Duensing’s (excellent) 2017 season with the Cubs here.
Despite his age (35 by season’s start), Duensing offers not only durability out of the pen (68 appearances in 2017), but also the ability to get hitters out from both sides of the plate: in 2017 he put up a pitcher slash line of .255/.301/.381 against lefties and .237/.307/.360 against righties. For a team that struggled with bullpen control last season, Duensing’s 8.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 look pretty solid, too. Add in a 2.74 ERA and a 48.6 percent ground ball rate, and Duensing feels like a steal for the Cubs at this price.
Another benefit, while small, is that Duensing provides additional depth with his ability to start in a pinch. Logic would say the 2018 train will have gone totally off the rails if the Cubs reach the point of needing Duensing to start, but as an additional component to his value, the Cubs will take it.
Duensing got a lot of comps around Cubs nation to Travis Wood, playing the role of the oft-used, underappreciated, “Don’t-Worry-I’ll-Clean-Up-Your-Mess” relief pitcher. He’ll remain in a cadre of lefties that now includes himself, Mike Montgomery, Justin Wilson, Dario Álvarez, and potentially Drew Smyly later in the season. Having him back adds another quality arm to a Cubs bullpen that feels as reliable in its depth as it does questionable for its lack of Kenley Jansen-types come playoff time.
Lead photo courtesy Dennis Wierzbicki—USA Today Sports