I know this will come as a shock to you, but the Cubs have been looking at a pair of relief pitchers with fairly significant injury history. The most notable is former Nationals closer Drew Storen, who is working his way back after missing the entire 2018 season following Tommy John surgery. A product of Brownburg, IN, the same town that produced Lance Lynn and Tucker Barnhart, the 31-year-old Storen has racked up 99 saves in eight big-league seasons.
Only four of those saves have come in his last two campaigns, though, and Storen’s aggregate ERA and FIP are both north of 4.50 in that same time. Much of that can be attributed to a precipitous drop in fastball velocity, from an average of 95 mph over his first six seasons to under 91 mph in 2017 with the Reds. Storen gave up more contact and generated fewer whiffs than ever during his season in Cincinnati.
He did, however, pitch an immaculate inning against the Orioles. For those not familiar with this incredibly rare feat, it’s when a pitcher throws nine pitches, all for strikes, to record three strikeouts. Pretty cool.
Nothing is imminent, but sources told the Tribune’s Mark Gonzales that Storen worked out for the Cubs two weeks ago. It’s easy to see them trying to bring the righty in on a minor league deal to add a little depth to the competition for a bullpen spot, since that’s kind of the Cubs’ jam. Even though the velo drop and return from surgery don’t make for an enticing combo, maybe Storen’s rehab will help him bounce back.
Gonzales also noted that the Cubs were expected to check in on 28-year-old righty Zack Jones at a Tuesday workout in Arizona. He’s ricocheted all over the minors with the Twins and Brewers, battling shoulder (torn labrum) and control issues. His 5.5 BB/9 mark is far from ideal, but he can touch the upper 90’s with his fastball and that 12.9 K/9 tally in the minors is tantalizing.
Even if nothing further comes of the Cubs’ interest in either of these players, expect to see Theo Epstein and Co. continuing to check in on low-cost depth options as spring training approaches.