Chicago Cubs: Zac Rosscup

Cactus League will help determine roles

March, 4, 2015
Mar 4
1:18
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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MESA, Ariz. -- Let the games begin! The Cactus League starts Thursday for the Chicago Cubs, and here’s what you need to know:

The Cubs will play 31 games before ending their stay in Arizona with two exhibition contests against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 3 and 4. The only day they don’t have a game scheduled is March 23. Thursday’s split-squad openers feature Travis Wood taking on the Oakland Athletics at Sloan Park and Jacob Turner pitching against the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale.

While spring statistics are mostly meaningless, that may not be the case for those vying for roster spots. Manager Joe Maddon has said a player’s “body of work” is most important, but if all things are equal, the guy who dominates in the spring could win the job. The opposite is true of the player who struggles all month. Last year Jose Veras never found his groove during the spring, and he struggled to start the season. The same was true of Carlos Marmol in 2013.

But be wary of the hitter who puts up monster spring numbers. Maddon doesn’t put much stock into it. However, again, the player who never gets it going is the one the Cubs should keep an eye on. Is it part of the process or the next Veras?

“I want to have that one outing where everything clicks,” pitcher Jason Hammel said Wednesday. “As long as the progression is there and then I have that game, I’m good.”

Fifth starter: For all practical purposes, this is Wood’s job to lose. But if Edwin Jackson somehow regains any kind of decent form, he could end up being the fifth starter. Crazier things have happened. More than likely, if everyone is healthy, the Cubs will trade one of those two pitchers -- or Tsuyoshi Wada. Turner and Felix Doubront are long shots for the job. Turner thinks he can be better after a year that produced a 6.13 ERA and then a winter of reflection.

“It’s tough to make adjustments during the season,” Turner said. “That’s what the offseason is for.”

Javier Baez: There’s plenty to watch when Baez comes to the plate, starting with his approach.

“For now, we are going to be working on making more contact and seeing the ball all the way through the zone,” Baez said.

Baez was asked if he’ll shorten up with two strikes, something he never did last year.

“You’re probably going to see me doing it with one strike too so I can work on it,” he responded.

Remember, early offensive results in the spring should be taken with a grain of salt, as hitting conditions are ripe for batters and pitchers aren’t throwing their hardest -- or with their best stuff.

Lefty in the pen: It doesn’t get much attention -- until the eighth inning of an April game on the line -- but the Cubs need a lefty specialist, or at least a lefty long man, in the bullpen. There is no clear cut favorite for the job.

“I don’t think one person has the job over another,” southpaw Zac Rosscup said. “Its fun to compete. They’re all great guys.”

Rosscup joins a group that includes newcomer Drake Britton and Joe Ortiz as candidates to make the bullpen.

“This is a great opportunity for me,” Britton said. “There are a lot of good lefties here. We’re in a friendly competition. I’m going to do everything I can to get it.”

If there is any position on the team that spring games will determine a roster spot, it’s left-handed reliever.

Third base: The other position up for grabs is third base. Is it Tommy La Stella or Mike Olt? Or maybe Arismendy Alcantara finds his way there. Their defense at the hot corner might help determine a winner, as only Olt has played there on a regular basis. But is the winner really winning when he’ll lose his job as soon as the Cubs bring up Kris Bryant from the minors? In a way, he is, because if he’s playing well, he may retain his roster spot even though he might not be the starter for more than a few weeks.

The lineup: Maddon revealed a partial lineup for Thursday’s home game against the Oakland Athletics. He’ll try different combinations throughout the spring:

Dexter Fowler
Anthony Rizzo
Starlin Castro
Miguel Montero
Javier Baez

Cubs welcome back Barney, recall Rosscup

July, 11, 2014
7/11/14
3:55
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs made a pair of roster moves Friday, reinstating Darwin Barney from the paternity list and calling up left-hander Zac Rosscup from Triple-A Iowa.

To make room for both players, right-handed pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Blake Parker were optioned back to Iowa.

Barney was not in the lineup Friday as Arismendy Alcantara started at second base. The 28-year-old Barney is batting .224 with a .261 on-base percentage in 70 games this season.

Rosscup is beginning his fourth stint with the Cubs this season. He has made a total of four appearances for the Cubs this year and has not been scored upon in four innings. He is 2-0 at Iowa with a 2.61 ERA in 20 appearances.

Hendricks got word of his demotion one day after making his major league debut at Cincinnati. He gave up four runs in six innings of the Cubs’ eventual 6-4 victory in 12 innings.

Parker, who had a 9.53 ERA in five appearances with the Cubs, has 18 saves and has a 1.44 ERA at Iowa this year, earning Pacific Coast League All-Star honors.

Cubs shake up bullpen numbers

April, 24, 2014
4/24/14
1:46
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs made the somewhat drastic move on Thursday of going with 13 pitchers on their roster and 12 position players one day after using three pitchers in a ninth-inning blown save against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Rosscup
Ramirez
Blake Parker was sent down to Triple-A Iowa and outfielder Justin Ruggiano was placed on the disabled list allowing room for lefty Zac Rosscup and righty Neil Ramirez.

"Right now, at least for 15 days with Ruggiano down, and then we'll go from there," manager Rick Renteria said of using 13 pitchers. "We can use the pitching."

This comes on the heels of Cubs' starters going seven or more innings in the first three games of the series against Arizona but maybe Renteria was preparing for the next two days when Edwin Jackson (Thursday) and Carlos Villanueva (Friday) take the mound. Bullpens have been in use more often than not when they pitch.

But why did the Cubs choose to send down the righty Parker in favor of the lefty Rosscup? Maybe it has something to do with the lefties currently in the bullpen. James Russell and Wesley Wright have struggled, especially against left-handed hitting. Opposing lefty hitters are 5-for-10 against Wright this month and Russell has walked three and given up three hits, including a home run, in 11 at-bats against left-handed hitters.

"Rosscup has shown he's capable of relieving up here," Renteria said. "He did a nice job in New York."

Rosscup threw 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief as the 26th man on the roster in a doubleheader against the New York Yankees but was sent right back to Triple-A. Wright and Russell could be showing signs of fatigue due to heavy workloads over the past two years. Both are at the top of the league in appearances over that time frame. Either way, the Cubs bullpen is a mess right now with no clear-cut closer and overuse or ineffectiveness is the common denominator.

"The reality is you win or lose ballgames in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning," Renteria said. "You have to learn from these experiences. (Wednesday's) experience hopefully gives them something to build on and work with. Both the negative and the positive. Everything has to be useful and serve some purpose."

Renteria is right about the learning experience. If Pedro Strop's struggles on Wednesday make him better for it than it was worth the blown save. The Cubs are playing for the future. Figuring out who fits in and where is their lone priority right now.

And finding a closer.

Cubs recall LHP Rosscup for nightcap

April, 16, 2014
4/16/14
4:05
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
NEW YORK -- The Chicago Cubs recalled left-handed pitcher Zac Rosscup for the second game of their day/night doubleheader against the New York Yankees on Wednesday night.

Rosscup, 25, was a September call-up last season, posting a 1.35 ERA in 10 relief appearances. He was acquired in January of 2011 as part of an eight-player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays in which the Cubs also received pitcher Matt Garza.

As per MLB rules, teams can add a 26th man specifically for day/night doubleheaders.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jake Arrieta
WINS ERA SO IP
10 2.53 167 156
OTHER LEADERS
BAS. Castro .292
HRA. Rizzo 32
RBIA. Rizzo 78
RA. Rizzo 89
OPSA. Rizzo .913
ERAT. Wood 5.03
SOJ. Arrieta 167