After last night's thrilling, come-from-behind victory over the Brewers, Chicago has leapt back in front of Milwaukee in the tightly-contested National League Central Division. Like last year's edition of the Cubbies, this year's bunch misfired at the starting line and fell back behind both the Brew Crew and the Red Birds. However, unlike last season's World Series hangover which carried into the All-Star Break, this brief daze seems to have only momentarily stunned the club. At this point, the baby bears' record sits at 38-25, a season high 13 games over .500, with the rest of the division in their rear-view mirror. Hopefully, they stay there.
Just looking at the final score, 7-2, yesterday's contest did not appear to be so tightly contested. However, the Cubs were forced to come back on the Crew twice, tying the game at two before heading into extras. It was in the 11th inning that Anthony Rizzo lead-off with a bomb to steal the lead and then the rest of the roster staged a two-out rally for four insurance runs to break it open.
Enter Anthony Bass.
Manager, Joe Maddon, is known for his desire to provide soft landing spots for new additions to the roster. Since the offense suddenly exploded in the top of the 11th in an epic game of f**k the closer, Anthony Bass was given the relatively easy assignment of protecting a five run lead. Having just had his contract purchased from Iowa that afternoon, this appearance marked Bass' Cubs debut. The newest Chicago hurler retired the side with ease, allowing only one bloop hit before sealing the W.
So far in 2018, the last few spots in the Cubs bullpen have been something of a taxi squad and an effective one at that. Randy Rosario, Luke Farrell, Justin Hancock, and Cory Mazzoni have been riding the shuttle back-and-forth from Des Moines to Chicago, providing a fresh arm when the pen tires out. To facilitate this swap, it was Mazzoni who was given the bus ticket; I guarantee he'll blow back into the Windy City at some point this summer.
As for Bass, the Cubs reeled in the right handed reliever during the Cold Stove Season last December. The unheralded minor league signing earned some press for some light recruiting of his former teammates, Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani, and very nearly made the Cubs roster out of spring camp. So far at AAA, Anthony has been nothing short of stellar, with a 2.28 ERA in 23.2 innings, to go along with 20 K's against just six walks. That'll get the job done.
Anthony has been kicking around the Majors since 2011 and his fastball has always been a plus. However, his secondary pitches can be inconsistent (slider, cut fastball), which has kept him from consistently holding down a spot in the Bigs. So far, Bass has plied his talents with the Padres, Astros, Rangers, the Nippon Ham Fighters, and again with the Rangers during his professional journey. Perhaps Bass will finally harness his secondary pitches and carve out a niche in Chicago? We shall see.
For now, we can expect the righty to serve as a fungible arm on the taxi squad, going up and down as fresh arms are needed. However, if he continues pitch as well as he did last night in Milwaukee, Mr. Bass might just be able to reel in an MLB job.
Bass pitching for the Cubs in Mesa, AZ. Image courtesy of Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Luckily for me, I just so happened to have a 2012 Topps Flagship card of the newest Cub laying around in wait. Shortly after he inked his minor league deal with an invitation to spring training a couple days before Christmas, I came across the single while flipping through my Padres trade bait. Seeing as Major League teams go through so many relievers these days, I felt like there was a pretty good chance that the depth signing would eventually end up in the Second City, so I immediately set it aside for future considerations. Looks like my hunch was right.
The chances of Bass ever appearing in Cubbie blue on a baseball card are slim, owing to his status as a reliever and the current hobby monopoly, so this lucky find may serve as his representation in my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection for the foreseeable future. Although, maybe he'll surprise us all and become a crucial part of the Cubs' roster that Topps simply cannot ignore; or, perhaps he'll at least do something on the field worthy of being immortalized on a Now instant card. Only time will tell.
At any rate, welcome to Chicago and to my CATRC binder, Anthony Bass - this post is all about you!