Thursday, February 22 2024

Analysis: Should the Cubs claim Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López or Matt Moore? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Los Angeles Angels have added a layer of intrigue to the MLB playoff race, as they’ve reportedly begun the process of cutting loose four players who could potentially have an impact on the postseason chase.

Those players include pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López and Matt Moore, as well as outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

All four players can be claimed by teams through Thursday, with reverse-standings order determining priority.

As things stand, the Cubs still have a one-game lead over the San Francisco Giants and a half-game lead on the Arizona Diamondbacks in the wild card race, but they trail the Milwaukee Brewers by five games in the National League Central.

The Cubs also have some serious issues in their rotation and bullpen as they hit the stretch run of the season.

So the question becomes this: should the Cubs try to put in waiver claims on any of the pitchers the Angels have cut loose?

Where the Cubs Stand

It is a well-known fact that the Cubs have been dealing with some significant issues in their rotation of late. Marcus Stroman remains on the shelf with fractured rib cartilage. Drew Smyly has been in and out of the rotation due to his struggles with command.

Even Jameson Taillon has had a rough-go of things lately. After a solid run in late July and early August, he is once again struggling, giving up at least four runs in each of his last four starts, including four in the first inning against the Brewers on Monday.

The team’s bullpen, while riding strong performances from Adbert Alzolay, Mark Leiter Jr. and Julian Merryweather, is facing some depth challenges of its own.

The Cubs have lost Codi Heuer for the rest of the season. Michael Fulmer just went on the injured list. Nick Burdi suffered an injury setback during his recovery, though he could start throwing again soon.

Finally, the exact timetable for a return remains uncertain for Brad Boxberger.

Where the 40-Man Roster Stands

The key to all of this for the Cubs is that they have two spots open on their 40-man roster at the moment. That means they can not only call up a prospect to bolster their roster before Sept. 1, such as outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, but they could also add another pitcher to the mix, and that’s where the Angels’ crop of waiver casualties comes in.

Why Moore or López Could Make Sense

Moore should have been on the Cubs’ radar over the offseason, and his performance continues to be solid. He is holding righties to a .184 batting average and a .290 slugging percentage on the season, and he would give the Cubs an effective lefty bullpen arm that they have largely lacked this season.

His batting average against has been higher in the second-half of the season, but he’s still holding opponents to a sub-.300 on-base percentage and has boosted his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 5.20.

As for López, his second half ERA has been 1.72. He also has 25 strikeouts and just seven walks in 15.2 innings.

Granted, he has been slightly better against lefties, but his slugging percentage against is virtually identical, making him an effective weapon earlier in games against either righties or southpaws.

As for Giolito…..

Giolito is certainly the biggest name available from the Angels, but there are reasons for some skepticism along with any optimism.

Yes, he is still a good strikeout pitcher, having registered 165 in 153.2 innings this season. His 4.45 ERA certainly hasn’t been helped by the teams he has played for, consistently having to pitch with razor-thin margins for error.

However, he has struggled at times in each of the last two seasons, and hasn’t been at his best in the second half of the 2023 season. In his last eight starts, his OPS-against is .962, and he has given up 13 home runs in just 163 at-bats over that stretch.

All of that being said, the Cubs are essentially operating with two reliable starting pitchers at the moment, though Javier Assad is making a push to be the third man in that grouping.

With the struggles of Smyly, the uncertainty over Taillon, and questions over how many innings the team feels comfortable letting Jordan Wicks throw, taking a flyer on Giolito may not be the worst decision ever for the Cubs.

That being said, it would stand to reason that adding Moore or López would make more sense….if other teams behind the Cubs in the standings will allow them to do so.

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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