The Cubs’ starting rotation upheaval has been good news to Cubs' minor leaguer Brooks Raley.
The left-hander hasn’t exactly emerged from nowhere, it just seems like it. He hasn’t been on the 40-man roster, wasn’t invited to big-league camp at spring training and was way down on the depth chart when the season began.
His chance will come Tuesday, though, as he starts for the Cubs against the Padres at San Diego’s Petco Park.
With Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm traded, not to mention Matt Garza’s recent trip to the disabled list, the Cubs had plenty of spots to fill. Raley takes the spot that Garza would have occupied if the right-hander was able to return from his upper arm injury, which has now been diagnosed as a stress reaction above his elbow.
Raley started the season at Double-A Tennessee, was promoted to Triple-A Iowa, and while his combined 6-10 overall record doesn’t leap off the page there is plenty to like.
In eight starts at Tennessee, Raley had a 3.51 ERA and in 14 starts at Iowa he had a 3.62 ERA. His combined strikeout-to-walk ration is better than 2-to-1 with 98 punch outs and 40 free passes. Opponents are batting .267 against him.
While openings in the rotation put Raley on the fast track, he had actually been doing enough to make a name for himself. It isn’t as if this is a rags-to-riches story. He is a sixth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M in 2009 after all, and has shown some minor-league success.
Last season he had a so-so 4.22 ERA at Double-A, but in 2010 he had a 3.50 ERA in 27 starts at Single-A Daytona.
Raley is somewhat similar to Travis Wood in that he doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, can change speeds, is trying to dial in a breaking ball and is known as an athletic pitcher.