It’s about a month and a half too late, but the Cubs added some additional pitching depth on Thursday, picking up Rodrigo Lopez from the Braves for Ryan Buchter.
After failing to make the Braves out of spring training, Lopez, 35, was 6-1 with a 2.59 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Gwinnett. Pitching for a Diamondbacks team that needed someone to soak up innings, he went 7-16 with a 5.00 ERA last year. He led the NL in losses and in homers allowed with 37, but he did exactly what Arizona needed him to.
The Cubs certainly could have used some of his six-inning and three- or four-run starts with Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner on the shelf the last two months. Their replacement have been terrible: Casey Coleman is 2-4 with a 7.32 ERA in eight starts, and James Russell came out of the pen to go 0-5 with a 9.33 ERA in his five starts. He’s since been replaced by veteran Doug Davis.
Wells is finally back for the Cubs this week, but with Matt Garza down, Lopez figures to go right into the rotation. He’ll battle Davis for the right to stay there after Garza returns.
Buchter, a 24-year-old lefty, had pitched 10 1/3 scoreless innings for Single-A Daytona this season, striking out 17 and walking three. The caveat is that those numbers came after he was demoted from Double-A Tennessee, where had a 6.55 ERA and a 13/11 K/BB ratio in 11 innings. He’s a long shot to have a career as a reliever.
Yasiel Puig made a public appearance today. He was a guest barista at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Los Angeles as part of a charity . . . thing. I dunno. I just hope that, after finishing the foam on someone’s latte he airmailed it past his fellow barista at the counter and got it to the customer on the fly 300 feet away, after which he flipped the espresso machine. Gotta stay on-brand.
After that he talked about baseball. Puig, who was demoted last season and then brought back up in a part-time role, said that it’s his goal to be a starter again, if not in Los Angeles than someplace else. As for the someplace else, the Dodgers explored a Puig trade last season and it was thought they’d try again this offseason, but it’s been all quiet on that front.
What is Puig, for his part, doing to become a starter again? Getting in shape. From MLB.com:
Puig has been working out at Dodger Stadium the last two weeks. He is conditioning his leaner body to avoid injuries that have plagued him and working with batting coaches in search of regaining the impact bat that once had him on the verge of superstardom . . . The 6-foot-2 Puig, who last year was listed at 240 pounds, now has a personal chef to prepare healthier foods.
A leaner Puig. That’ll certainly be a game-changer, right?
Yet as a new season dawns, the team still hopes he can recapture the form he displayed as a rookie in 2013. The organization asked Puig to slim down and focus on durability rather than musculature. Friedman sounded pleased with the result. Puig had suggested he weighed about 240 pounds, down 15 from his listed weight in 2015.
Oops. That was from January 30, 2016.
If he keeps getting leaner each offseason eventually he’ll just disappear, right?
Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.
Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.