The July 31st trade deadline is inching closer by the minute and it is time for the Cubs to make a move. There has been significant speculation that the Cubs will trade one of their two left-handed relievers, James Russell or Wesley Wright. Russell and Wright, both second-year arbitration eligible after the season, are two of the best southpaws available right now, but which one should the Cubs keep and which one should they deal?
Let’s take a look.
(Stats per baseball-reference.com)
James Russell, 28, always seems to pitch lights out early in the year and fade late. This year is no exception. Russell pitched his way to a 2.82 ERA (6.1 IP) in May and a 0.00 ERA ( 11 IP) in June but has turned in a 8.64 ERA (8.1 IP) in the month of July, according to ESPN.com. Russell has spent his entire five-year career with the Cubs and has been a significant part of their bullpen in recent years, making more than 70 appearances in each of the last two seasons.
Upside: Russell’s best selling point is that he is a consistent and durable arm out of the pen. You know that you are going get. Russell has also been particularly tough against lefties since 2011, holding them to a .230 batting.
Downside: Russell’s consistency is also his downside. He has continued the trend of weak second halves this year by giving up five earned runs in just three innings since the all-star break; he had an ERA of 2.54 before the break. He has also been ineffective against lefties this year, yielding .305 opponent batting average vs. lefties (although righties are hitting just .094 against him).
(stats per baseball-reference.com)
Wesley Wright, 29, is the yin to James Russell’s yang. Wesley Wright has been a very inconsistent reliever over the course of his seven-year career, posting sub 3 ERA’s in 2011, 2013 (with the Tampa Bay Rays) and 2014 and three straight season over 5.00, from 2008-2010. 2014 is Wright’s first in Chicago and he is having a career year, putting up career-bests in almost every category. Is it real or too good to be true?
Upside: Wright has clearly been the better reliever to this point in the season. He has been used in fewer games than James Russell has but their inning totals are nearly identical (Wright: 30.1, Russell: 31.1). Wright has also stayed consistent with his production; 2.36 pre-all-star ERA & 2.45 post-all-star ERA, according to ESPN.com.
Downside: The biggest question surrounding Wesley Wright is, “can he maintain his production?” Wright has never been this good for this long at any point in his career and could collapse as we head deeper into the second half. Wright has also been ineffective against lefties (similar to Russell), allowing them to hit .327 against him (.188 vs righties).
The choice that opposing GM’s will face is: take the steady reliever or ride the hot hand? What would you do? Comment below or on our Facebook page!
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