The Chicago Cubs announced a series of roster moves Tuesday afternoon. Current closer Hector Rondon was taken off of the paternity list, and to provide him with a roster spot veteran reliever Jose Veras was designated for assignment. They also placed Welington Castillo on the 15 day disabled list, and catcher Eli Whiteside was called up from Triple-A Iowa.
Jose Veras was signed by the Cubs this past December, the eighth team that he has pitched for since the beginning of the 2009 season. The journeyman was expected to provide a veteran presence in a young Cubs bullpen and also hold down the closing duties. Instead he lost the closer role within the first two weeks of the season, was unable to locate his pitches very well and reminded many fans of former erratic Cubs pitcher, Carlos Marmol. Veras also missed some time with an oblique injury.
In 12 games this season he had a 8.10 ERA while blowing both of his save opportunities. He had, however, been showing signs of improvement, posting a 2.35 ERA in his last six games. Whether or not that is enough for a team to make a trade offer for him is yet to be seen.
Hector Rondon has been about as much of a surprise as Veras was, but for a completely different reason. Rondon, a former Rule 5 Draft pick, posted a 4.77 ERA in 45 games last year. This year he has a 1.59 ERA and has emerged as the team’s closer, converting six of his first seven save opportunities. He is just one of many young Cubs relievers to be pitching well.
The Cubs offense has not been very good for *most* of this season. But one of their more productive players has been starting catcher Welington Castillo, who took over the regular catching duties in 2012 after Geovany Soto was traded away. He has become one of the better defensive catchers in the game, and is currently fifth on the team in home runs (5) and fourth in RBI (21) this season. He came out of their game in Milwaukee on Sunday after four innings with a strained left rib cage.
To fill in for Castillo, the Cubs purchased the contract of veteran catcher Eli Whiteside from Triple-A Iowa. Whiteside is strong defensively with a career .989 fielding percentage, but he isn’t nearly as strong swinging the bat. In his big league career he has a .215 batting average with a .273 OBP, but with Iowa this year those numbers have been much lower (.171/.235). Combine that with John Baker’s numbers this year (.163/.222), and you end up with a lot of Cubs fans waiting for Castillo to return.
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