Pitcher Profile: Michael Bowden and Hector Rondon
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Other Pitching Profiles:
After several blown saves and countless squandered opportunities, it’s no secret that the Cubs bullpen has struggled to finish leads handed to them from the starters this season. In the first 20 games, the bullpen has recorded a 4.53 ERA. In comparison, the five starters boast a 2.97 ERA, which ranks third in MLB. With attention shifting to the late-game pitchers, the last of our pitching profiles highlight Michael Bowden and Hector Rondon, two young former prospects who earned a place in the 2013 ‘pen.
Drafted by the Red Sox in 2005, Michael Bowden stayed with the club until he was traded to the Cubs last April. The 26-year-old posted a 2.95 ERA last year, but has struggled this season, owning a 4.53 ERA in 10.1 IP this season. Though Bowden has shown some trouble on the mound, his current 1.16 WHIP is solid, even for a reliever, and the right-hander shows promise with mostly steady improvement since entering the majors.
Hector Rondon came to the Cubs via Cleveland as a Rule 5 Draft pick in December. Though injury issues and Tommy John surgery limited the 25-year-old’s appearances in the past, the Venezuelan native has proven to be a leader in the ‘pen since his April 3 debut. In 5.2 IP, Rondon has held his ERA to 1.59 with a 12.7 K/9. If recovery doesn’t interfere with his performance, Rondon could prove to be a major asset to Cubs relievers—especially after roster changes and injuries at the start of the season.
Bowden and Rondon are two of several pitchers profiled in Vine Line’s 2013 Pitching Preview, available in the April issue, on sale now.
2012 Stats: 39.2 IP, 19.4 K%, 9.7 UBB%, 1.24 WHIP, 2.95 ERA
Pitches: 4-Seam (92), Slider (83), Splitter (85)
Plan of Attack: Bowden, a Winfield, Ill., native and former top prospect, pitched effectively in 32 appearances between the Cubs and Red Sox last season. He is predominantly a fastball pitcher, but he can add or subtract a few mph when he needs it. He will also cut the pitch to get glove-side movement. His splitter is an effective weapon, but it was a take-or-whiff pitch last year. He uses his slider in all counts, particularly versus righties, and is an extreme fly ball pitcher, which could come into play when the wind is blowing out at Wrigley Field.
2012 Stats (AA/R): 7.0 IP, 9 K, 2 BB, 4 H, 1 ER
Pitches: Fastball (91), Cutter, Change (88), Slider (80)
Plan of Attack: Rondon is a former top prospect in the Indians system—he was their minor league pitcher of the year as recently as 2009—but he has had multiple elbow issues, including Tommy John surgery and a fractured elbow. He pitched well in Venezuela over the winter and has succeeded as high as Triple-A. Rondon has very good command of a four-pitch mix, including a fastball, cutter, change and short breaking ball. As a Rule 5 pick, he has to stay on the 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Indians.