Chicago Cubs

Why Is Marcos Mateo in the Big Leagues Right Now?

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 23:  Marcos Mateo of the Chicago Cubs poses during photo day at the Fitch Park Spring Training complex on February 23, 2009 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Ron CoomerContributor IAugust 26, 2010

In light of my recent obsession with Cubs rookie pitchers, I’ve taken notice to yet another intriguing young arm. Marcos Mateo made his big league debut Aug. 8, and has enjoyed little to no success since then.

Mateo joined the Cubs’ system as a player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Buck Coats (remember him?) to Cincinnati in 2007. While the Cubs tried their hand at making Mateo a starter, it is clear his control issues limit him to a relief role.

The 26-year-old right-hander has shared time in the Cubs’ Rookie, Double-A, and Triple-A leagues this season before joining the Cubs’ major league team.

Mateo spent only 13.2 innings pitched at Triple-A this season. While Mateo was successful in that small sample, that is certainly a jump in competition.

To make the concern of proper development even worse, Mateo has spent a total of 49 days on the disabled list this season in the minors, fueling the debate that he may not be ready for big league competition.

As for Mateo’s performance in the majors, he leaves much to be desired. He is striking out batters at a very good clip (12.79 K/9), but he is walking batters at a rate that would make Carlos Marmol blush (7.11 BB/9).

He’s also tossing up homers like it’s going out of fashion (2.84 HR/9; 0.97 avg).

Mateo does, however, possess quite some potential out of the bullpen. Hitters are struggling to make contact with both his mid-90’s heater with run and sink, and his Marmol-like mid-80-mph diving slider.

The issue is that he just isn’t capable of commanding either pitch worthy enough for a big league spot. The thought here is that maybe he’ll just ‘figure it out’ at the majors, in a lost season for the Cubs.

While Mateo doesn’t have time on his side with his age, he should go back to Triple-A for the rest of the season to develop. He should use this season as a time to refine his pitches, not for a trial of fire at the big league level.

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