Major League Baseball is an ever-changing landscape. As such the teams as well change and adapt to different situations that come from a grueling 162-game season that doesn’t include Spring Training in April and the playoffs in September and October. Slumps and hot streaks alike occur over and over again causing players to come up to the Majors, get sent down to the Minors, or in some unfortunate cases, get released.
One such recently released individual is former Tampa Bay Rays closer Grant Balfour. For teams like the Chicago Cubs who have endured a plethora of injuries in the first month of the regular season, experienced help in the form of relief pitchers is a hot commodity, especially with so many Cubbie relievers going down and four months remaining in the regular season alone.
Balfour, 37, found himself in a bad situation (at least for himself) in Tampa Bay. An aging reliever with diminishing “stuff” who’s making a bit more than he’s worth at this point in his career. He’s has some success in recent seasons. He pitched well for Oakland from 2011-2013 but didn’t want to call it quits just yet. He signed with the Rays in 2014 and worked under then Tampa and now current Cubs Manager Joe Maddon. It’s always good to get in with someone of whom you’re familiar with especially in a situation where even diminishing skills are needed by a particular squad.
He’s only tossed 4 1/3 innings in six appearances this season and owns a hefty 6.23 ERA for this limited amount of play time. Career-wise, of any season that he’s pitched at least 22 innings this is his worst output by far. Yes, it’s still early and yes it’s a small sample size, and of course good things can still happen for Balfour as the season rolls on. Unfortunately there aren’t a whole ton of options out there for a team like the Cubs that’s in such fire need of relief arms. Balfour may not be the most optimal choice but for now, unless a better option arrises, he may have to do.