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 He’s since been replaced by veteran Doug Davis.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