You have to give the Cubs front office credit for staying true to trend, especially when it comes to loading up on inexpensive pitchers. Friday’s acquisition of righty Casey Sadler from the Dodgers in exchange for minor-league second baseman Clayton Daniel makes roughly 49 pitchers the Cubs have added since the end of the season. Unlike some of the other recent additions, however, Sadler takes up a spot on the 40-man roster.
The 29-year-old reliever got cups of coffee with the Pirates in 2014 and ’15, then missed all of 2016 with — you guessed it — Tommy John surgery. He logged a few more innings with Pittsburgh in 2018, then elected free agency and signed with the Rays. He was later designated for assignment and traded to the Dodgers, where he finished out 2019 before again being DFA’d on January 15.
Sadler owns a career 3.55 ERA over 66 total innings, getting by mostly on the ability to limit fly balls. His 52.2% groundball rate is solid, as is his 0.82 HR/9 mark, and he’s done a fairly good job of limiting hard contact. Despite big strikeout numbers (12.34 K/9 from 53 Ks in 38.2 IP) in Triple-A last season, however, his 6.02 K/9 at the MLB level was in keeping with his career 6.27 mark.
He’s out of options, hence the designations, so he could have a legitimate shot at breaking camp with the big club. If that’s the case, Sadler figures to be a less salty version of Brandon Kintzler. If you’re looking for hope that last year’s 2.14 ERA could be sustainable, Sadler made a significant change to his repertoire last season that may have led to the improved results. Though he still threw the sinker more than any other pitch, he dialed its usage way back in favor of the cutter and curve.
Those latter two pitches proved to be his best last season as he was able to mix in a little more movement to go with the hard stuff. What’s more, Sadler was throwing harder than ever, sitting around 94-95 with his fastball. He’s still young enough that a decrease in velocity shouldn’t be a concern, so maybe he can bring something to the ‘pen.