Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Flashing Some Leather

One of the continuing story lines of the Cubs' tumultuous 2017 season has been the stream of injuries - Ben Zobrist's wrist issues, Kris Bryant's ankle, Addison Russell's shoulder, Kyle Hendricks' hand... Thankfully, slowly but surely, the doctor's office that is the Cubs' clubhouse is starting to heal up. Yesterday afternoon, the Cubs activated Jason Heyward off of the disabled list -  he'd been dealing with a gash on his hand, suffered when diving for a ball against the Giants a few weeks ago.  It's hard to grip a bat when you're suffering from third degree burn-like wounds.

Of course, to add the J-Hey Kid back to the active roster, at least one corresponding move had to be made.  Dinged up, corner infield prospect, Jeimer Candelario was sent back to AAA- seeing as Bryant's aforementioned ankle appears to be healed, there's no space for the Candy Man to play.  Additionally, reliever Felix Pena was sent with Candelario, meaning the revolving door for that final spot in the bullpen continues to spin.

Grimm, Floro, Zastryzny, Frankoff, Pena... who's the latest reliever to get off the carousel at Wrigley Field?  It's Jack Leathersich:

No, no, no... not LeatherFACE... LeatherSICH... gosh, the Wrigley Roster Jenga interns are just not on their game today.

There - that's much better.

The first appearance that the lefty makes will be his Cubs debut (and his first Big League appearance since June 20, 2015), meaning that this Bowman Chrome single from 2013 will now be sliding into my CATRC binder.  Not bad for a dime box find that I came across in the winter of 2016, shortly after the former Mets prospect was claimed off of waivers, waived again, and signed to a minor league deal by the Cubs.  I figured it would make a good "just in case" purchase, seeing as it only cost me a shiny FDR.  As you can now see, that 10 cent piece thankfully did not go to waste.

As for the player himself, Jack was drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Massachusetts by the New York Metropolitans.   The lefty made his way up the minor league ladder on the strength of his K game - he has a career 15.0 SO9 percentage throughout his MiLB career.  This lead go his MLB debut out of the Mets bullpen in 2015, where the stat-line looked good (2.31 ERA, 22 K's in 11.2 IP) but the control wasn't entirely there (7 walks in that same time).  Then, injury struck and Leathersich heard the words that every pitcher dreads - Tommy John surgery.

Leathersich throwing a bullpen session with the Cubs, Spring Training 2017
Image courtesy of the Associated Press

The Cubs have never shied away from low-risk/high-reward type moves, so when the Mets tried to sneak Leather man  through waivers that off-season, they pounced.  He spent most of 2016 on the shelf, rehabbing his shoulder, before making his full-fledged return at AAA Iowa, this season.  Jack got off to a terrible start, but lately, he's been downright dominant.  He hasn’t allowed an earned run in nine innings over seven appearances going back to June 13, striking out 18 with only three walks over that span.

Meanwhile, the Cubs current opponent, the Rays, have struggled mightily against southpaws this season.  Additionally, the only lefty in the Chicago pen, Brian Duensing, though he's pitched well, has actually has been tougher on righties thus far in 2017.  So, perhaps Jack could seize the role of LOOGY if this audition goes well.

"Sorry - I dunno why you can't lefties out this year either, Brian."

With all of that being said, here's hoping that, in his return to the Majors, Jack LeatherSICH "buzzsaws" through National League lineups the same way that LeatherFACE would... only, you know, more metaphorically and with less cannibalism.

Welcome to the Windy City and to my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder, Jack!


  1. How do you organize your CATRC binder? Is it in order of appearance on the active roster so you just add them as they come?