The Cubs have not made any official announcements and may not for a while yet, but it’s looking as though lefty Rex “Body Shop” Brothers has earned a spot in the bullpen. After making just three very forgettable appearances for the Cubs last season, the 33-year-old has been lights-out this spring as a non-roster invitee on a minor league deal. That is, if you consider allowing no runs on two hits with nine strikeouts and just one walk to be lights-out.
With Andrew Chafin firmly entrenched as the bullpen’s primary southpaw, it was looking like the race for the second spot would come down to Brothers or Brad Wieck. That race is now likely over as the MLB transactions page shows that the Cubs have optioned Wieck to Triple-A.
Cubs haven't officially announced it, but the team transaction wire shows lefty Brad Wieck as optioned to Iowa, which would mean the second lefty job belongs to Rex Brothers, if anyone.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 27, 2021
Brothers hasn’t pitched a full season since 2014 with the Rockies, when he posted a 5.59 ERA over 74 appearances, and he’s struggled in limited action ever since. This is actually his third stint with the Cubs, the first of which came when Chicago acquired him via trade in November of 2015. He was released after just four months with the team and didn’t pitch professionally during the 2016 season.
A strikeout artist who has traditionally put up pretty big walk numbers as well, Brothers has done a good job of keeping the ball in the yard and still has mid-90’s heat. That experience should come in handy for a Cubs team that doesn’t have a lot of swing-and-miss in the rotation, and it’ll be huge if Brothers maintains the control he’s displayed in Mesa.
“I’ve looked at Rex hard, and he’s done nothing but prove that he belongs in the big leagues,” David Ross said recently. “I’ve thrown him to the wolves multiple games, and he’s done nothing but answer the bell. The ball’s coming out as good as I’ve ever seen it. He’s been consistent throwing strikes.”
For as much flak as Jed Hoyer caught for putting together a pitching staff populated largely by castoffs and reclamation projects, the Cubs sure do have some solid depth. Granted, that’s based on spring performances and can’t be leaned upon too heavily just yet.