Thursday, the Brewers cut five from their spring training roster. Friday, they lost one more, albeit perhaps unintentionally — reliever Frankie De La Cruz was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs. Everyone’s best guess is the Brewers tried to slip De La Cruz, who is out of minor league options, through waivers with the idea of demoting him to the minors.
De La Cruz was another nice find by Doug Melvin on a minor league deal last season. He pitched in 11 games for the big league club, allowing four runs in 13 innings, but also surrendering 10 hits and 5 walks while striking out 9. He also hit 2 batters and uncorked 3 wild pitches.
While it was a small sample size, that was the type of effective wildness that he’s become known for. He has potentially great stuff, but often times it seems like he doesn’t know where the ball is going to end up. With Triple A Nashville last season, De La Cruz made 25 appearances (23 starts), and had a WHIP north of 1.4, gave up 8.5 hits per 9 innings, and walked over 4 batters per 9 innings — but he also struck out over 8 per 9 innings.
He’s the type of hard thrower that wouldn’t make for a bad long man out of the bullpen, but with so few bullpen spots actually up for grabs this spring, it isn’t too much of a surprise to see him go. Manny Parra could fill a similar role to the one De La Cruz would have held, and has the benefit of throwing left-handed. Tim Dillard doesn’t throw as hard, but has better control from the right side. Marco Estrada figures to also be in the long-man mix as the team’s 6th starter. Simply put, there just wasn’t much room for De La Cruz.
With De La Cruz off the roster, the 40-man now stands at 39 if you don’t count Mark Rogers, who’s currently on the Restricted List due to what’s left of his suspension from last season. As Jim Goulart from Brewerfan.net notes, De La Cruz is the first Brewer to be lost on waivers since infielder Adam Heether in 2010.