On Saturday morning the Chicago Cubs promoted left-handed pitcher Rob Zastryzny to the major league roster. He pitched out of the bullpen Saturday, giving up three runs on three hits and four walks, then was sent back to Triple-A Iowa Sunday morning. If you blinked, you missed him. He’ll be back later this year, so here’s a quick profile.
Zastryzny was drafted in the second round in 2013 from the University of Missouri. His track record as a starting pitcher is actually quite spotty, but he did enough to impress the Cubs to earn a trial in the bullpen last year. This was very successful, with a 1.13 ERA in 17 innings with a 16/5 K/BB.
Zastryzny ranked 14th on the pre-season Chicago Cubs Top 20 prospects for 2017 list with the following comment:
14) Rob Zastryzny, LHP, Grade C+: Age 24, second round pick in 2013, posted 4.31 ERA in 136 innings between Double-A and Triple-A with 119/51 K/BB; promoted to majors and was stellar in September, posting 1.13 ERA in 16 innings with 17/5 K/BB, looking dominant in bullpen; fastball up to 94 along with a curve, slider; can hit all velocity spots between 74 and 94; unsure what his role will be but he’s ready for a trial. ETA: 2017.
The Cubs have settled on the bullpen role although he wasn’t doing particularly well down in Iowa before his promotion with a 6.88 ERA in 17 innings, 13/9 K/BB and 20 hits allowed. He was a warm body though, so he got the call when they needed a roster arm for Saturday.
I’ve seen him a lot dating back to his days at Mizzou and he is something of an enigma. When RZ is right he makes hitters look quite bad, getting them to chase off-speed stuff outside the zone, or busting them inside with a zippy fastball. When he’s wrong he gets nibbly, falls behind in the count, then either gives up a walk or grooves a hittable pitch to avoid the free pass.
I think the Cubs are correct that he belongs in the bullpen for now. What he did for the Cubs late last season shows what he’s capable of, but RZ is still looking for consistency. He’ll bounce between Triple-A and the majors until he finds it.