The Cubs have clearly made adding to the pitching staff, and especially the bullpen, a priority in the early part of this offseason.
News broke early on Thursday morning that the Cubs reached an agreement with Steve Cishek.
#Cubs in agreement with free-agent right-hander Steve Cishek, pending physical, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 14, 2017
Cishek is a 31-year-old right-hander who throws with a low arm-slot (see the photo above). He joins the Cubs after he was traded to the Rays just before the trade deadline this past season. He pitched under new Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey while in Florida.
Cishek gives the Cubs another experienced reliever in the bullpen after the previous additions of Brandon Morrow and Drew Smyly. In eight MLB seasons, Cishek has a 2.73 ERA with 449 strikeouts in 421 2/3 innings. His high strikeout rate should be appealing in addition to the fact that 2017 was arguably the best year of his career.
After joining the Rays, Cishek posted a 1.09 ERA while striking out 26 and walking seven in 24 2/3 innings. His 2.01 ERA in 2017, when combining his numbers with the Mariners before the trade, was the lowest of his career.
The Cubs bullpen may lose its best reliever from 2017 in Wade Davis, but is trying to make up for it in depth. Cishek had career-best numbers across the board (ERA, WHIP, BB/9, H/9) in his two-month stint with Tampa, under Hickey. If Hickey saw something in Cishek that he could improve upon and Cishek delivered, the Cubs could be looking at a strong addition to the 'pen.