The Cubs announced Friday that they’ve signed right-hander Cody Allen to a minor league contract and assigned him to their alternate training site in South Bend. The team’s player pool is now up to 58.
It wasn’t that long ago that Allen, 31, was considered one of the game’s best closers. He’s struggled considerably over the past two seasons, but from 2013-17, Allen was a ninth-inning buzzsaw in Cleveland, pitching to a 2.59 ERA and 2.86 FIP with 122 saves, 11.9 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and 0.86 HR/9.
In the two years since that dominant stretch, though, Allen’s average fastball has dipped by a bit more than three miles per hour. He stumbled to a 4.70 ERA in his final year prior to free agency but was still able to land a sizable one-year deal with the Halos. Unfortunately, he was clobbered for an ERA north of 6.00 and cut loose before the season had even reached the halfway mark. Allen carries a 5.10 ERA with 109 strikeouts against an unpalatable 53 walks in his past 90 MLB frames.
Two years ago, a bullpen featuring both Allen and Craig Kimbrel would’ve been the envy of 29 other teams in the league. Both pitchers have seen rapid downturns in performance now, however. The Cubs badly need one or both former stars to figure things out, as their patchwork bullpen has already proven to be a major weakness early in 2020. Chicago relievers have already yielded 20 runs on 18 hits and a ghastly 20 walks in just 18 2/3 innings. Seven of those hits have left the yard.