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The 12 days of Cubsmas, Day 3: Three epic relief performances

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The Cubs got a lot of help from unlikely pitchers in 2018

Jesse Chavez throws a scoreless seventh against the Rockies in the Wild Card Game.
Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs got a lot of help in 2018 from unlikely relievers. The front office spent a lot of money on bullpen arms in 2018 but the brightest moments came from players they picked up on the waiver wire and in trades. So on the third day of Cubsmas I wanted to take a look at three epic relief performances for the Cubs in 2018.

The Butler did it

Long before Nathan Eovaldi wowed the baseball world with 6+ innings in relief in game 3 of the World Series the Cubs had Eddie Butler put on a similar display, unfortunately with a similar result, on March 30 in Miami.

The Cubs traded for Eddie Butler in 2017. They acquired him from the Rockies for James Farris and international bonus pool money. He started 11 games for the Cubs in 2017 after the Brett Anderson experiment failed, but his March 30 relief appearance was perhaps his most impressive moment with the Cubs.

In retrospect, the Cubs opening series with the Marlins was a pretty good metaphor for the entire season. The Cubs opened the season with an 8-4 drubbing of Miami and followed that game up by losing a 17-inning war of attrition. Seven of those innings were thrown by Eddie Butler out of the bullpen for a line of: 7IP 4H 1R 1ER 1BB 5K. You can see highlights of his outing below [VIDEO].

In July the Cubs traded Butler and minor leaguer Rollie Lacy to the Rangers for Cole Hamels, who provided a much needed boost to a injury battered pitching rotation. Given the frequency of trades between the Rangers and the Cubs, who knows? We may see Butler back in blue pinstripes some day.

I wear my sunglasses at night

Speaking of trades with the Rangers, I couldn’t let this segment pass without a nod to one of the Cubs most unlikely heroes: Jesse Chavez. Chavez didn’t have a single game of brilliance like Butler, but he did manage to amass his most impressive two-month stretch in the majors for the Cubs, including a scoreless seventh inning in the Wild Card Game.

While we’re on the topic of scoreless innings, Chavez pitched a lot of them for the Cubs in 2018. He didn’t give up a run in the first nine innings he pitched for the team in July. In fact, of the 39 innings he threw for the Cubs 36 of those innings were scoreless. He took the ball for multiple innings seven times for the Cubs. All seven times he threw scoreless baseball. Just take a look at these game logs:

Jesse Chavez Cubs game logs
Baseball Reference

It is not an exaggeration to say that the two and a half months Chavez pitched for the Cubs were the best two and a half months of his career:

Jesse Chavez career and Cubs comparison

IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Avg ERA FIP xFIP
IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Avg ERA FIP xFIP
838.0 8.02 2.87 1.34 .261 4.45 4.31 4.01
39.0 9.70 1.20 0.70 .188 1.15 2.39 2.87
Select pitching stats Fangraphs

Farewell, Jesse Chavez. You earned that 2 year $8 million deal from the Rangers.

Cool hand Luke

In October 2017 the Cubs claimed Luke Farrell off the waiver wire from the Cincinnati Reds. He hadn’t been particularly impressive and rode the Iowa shuttle for most of 2018 before the Cubs designated him for assignment on September 1. He was claimed by the Angels on September 3, however, it’s worth looking at the work he did for the Cubs on the Iowa Shuttle in 2018 which was more than adequate for an extra arm in the bullpen.

I especially want to focus on Luke Farrell’s finest moment: the June 2 outing where he threw 5 innings of shutout baseball against the Mets in a 14-inning game to help the Cubs to a much needed victory.

Don’t let the final score of this game fool you, this was another game where the Cubs bats went silent only to eventually explode in the 14th inning. In fairness to the bats seven of the innings they were silent were at the hands of eventual Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. However, Mike Montgomery held his own through six innings, matching the Mets’ ace. And then it was up to the bullpen. On this day the unlikely hero for the Cubs came in the form of Luke Farrell.

Farrell baffled the Mets for five complete innings compiling a 5IP 2H 0R 0ER 2BB 7K line and staved off damage long enough for the Cubs bats to erupt. Brandon Morrow then finished the game in a non-save situation.

Take a look at Farrell’s outstanding performance below [VIDEO].

And so it was: On the third day of Cubsmas my true love gave to me three unlikely relief performances, two walkoff grand slams, and a Javy MVP candidate.