Cubs acquire veteran right-hander Rodrigo Lopez from Braves

1 Comment

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  He’s since been replaced by veteran Doug Davis.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.

David Phelps to undergo Tommy John surgery

Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.

Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.

As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.