After three straight trips to the National League Championship Series, the Chicago Cubs have retooled their roster as they prepare for the 2018 season.
How He Got Here
The Cubs once again made the dive into the free agent pool with Steve Cishek, signing him to a two-year deal worth a total of $13 million.
What He Did in 2017
In 49 games with the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners, Cishek had a largely successful campaign, posting an impressive 2.01 ERA and striking out 41 batters in 44.2 innings of work. He also put up a 0.90 WHIP in those contests as he improved in virtually every metric over the year before.
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What Does He Bring to the Table?
If there’s one thing that has come into fashion in baseball in recent years, it’s pitchers that deliver the ball to the plate in an unconventional way, and Cishek definitely fits into that category.
With his sidearm deliver, Cishek gives a way different look on the mound that just about every pitcher that the Cubs will throw out there, and that almost certainly played into the team’s decision to ink him to a contract.
Aside from simple style, Cishek has established himself as a consistent reliever over the last two seasons in the American League. In working with former Rays pitching coach (and new Cubs coach) Jim Hickey, Cishek continued to grow as a hurler, and his successes in Tampa are reflective of a good relationship with Hickey.
Our Prediction for 2018:
Cishek seems like the perfect candidate to be a seventh inning type guy, but we’re guessing that at least initially Joe Maddon will use him as a platoon split guy, taking on mostly right-handed hitters. Last season, Cishek held righties to a .148 batting average in 108 at-bats, and allowed just four runs all season long.
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He was solid against lefties too, holding them to a .208 average, leading us to believe that he will get a chance for a bigger role at some point, but with Carl Edwards Jr., Pedro Strop, and Brandon Morrow all still in the mix, he may find it tough to elbow his way into that role.