Bullpen Excitement? Justin Berg Goes Down For Scott Maine

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Bullpen Excitement? Justin Berg Goes Down For Scott Maine

Yesterday’s transaction line for the Cubs showed a bit of an eye-opening move.

Cubs' GM Jim Hendry exchanged one youthful left-handed specialist reliever for a righty with so-so stuff in a move that sent Justin Berg down to Triple-A Iowa for Scott Maine.

Berg has been a very big disappointment in his first try in the majors, sporting a 5.77 ERA to go along with his 2.88 strikeout per nine innings ratio.

To make matters worse than that terrible K/9 figure, he is walking a ton of batters, leading to a unthinkable 0.61 K/BB rate (2.15 average). 

It looks as though even though Berg is still young, 26, it looks as if his he doesn’t possess what it takes to be a major leaguer.

Berg wields a 90 mph-sinker with a below average slider. While he throws the sinker with good enough movement, it’s nowhere near good enough, or fast enough to throw it 83.6 percent of the time.

He isn’t making hitters swing and miss, and he doesn’t possess command good enough to cancel out his shortcomings with the strikeout.

The lefty who Hendry brought up in exchange for Berg, Scott Maine, looks like a solid bullpen arm.

Berg isn’t really a true left-handed specialist, in that he faced right-handed batters twice as often as lefties, but he is definitely more effective against southpaw batters.

Maine is good at making hitters pound the ball into the dirt with his fastball, and he puts away lefties with a nice slurve.

His arm slot (seen above) is also more effective against lefties, and he may struggle against big league right-handed batters because of that. 

Acquired in the deal that sent Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Maine has been an excellent bullpen arm for the Cubs’ minor league teams, even picking up a handful of saves here and there.

Maine has shown that he can be a solid strike-out threat to both lefties and righties, while limiting the walk and home run.

Walks can be a problem for him, but what power lefty doesn’t have problems with the walk? As he conditions himself to Major League competition, look for him to lower his walk rate. 

This was a move long coming, as Berg has not produced as a Chicago Cub. He is producing below replacement value (-0.3 WAR), and even worse, for being a rookie, he has shown he has limited potential.

Maine, on the other hand, may bring some value to the left-handed specialist spot that has been missing out of the Cubs’ bullpen for years.

 

Photo compliments of minors.mlblogs.com


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