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Should the Cubs try Caleb Kilian as a reliever?

The Cubs could use bullpen help. Here’s one idea.

Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

I thought I’d take a break from free-agent posts and try to address one of the issues facing the Cubs with an internal possibility.

Remember this?

Like Caleb Kilian, Andrew Chafin was a starter through most of his minor-league career in the Diamondbacks organization. But when Arizona first brought him to the major leagues full time in 2015 (after three starts late in 2014), they put him in the bullpen.

Chafin has spent the last nine years as a pretty good reliever for the D-backs, Cubs, A’s, Tigers, Brewers and now the Tigers again:

Chafin has made 536 relief appearances and posted a 3.39 ERA and 1.242 WHIP, with 475 strikeouts in 438 innings. That’s a solid relief career in anyone’s book, good for a career total of 6.6 bWAR.

So I got to thinking this same route might work for Kilian. He’s just been bad in some brief MLB tries as a starter, and last year at Triple-A Iowa he was also not very good.

But he was once very good, good enough that the Cubs wanted him in the Kris Bryant trade, along with Alexander Canario.

They sent Kilian to the Arizona Fall League in 2021 and he threw six perfect innings in that year’s AFL championship game. He was dealing at speeds up to 98 miles per hour [VIDEO].

Why not use some of this in relief? For whatever reason, Kilian doesn’t seem to be able to hold up to the demands of being an MLB starter, but he certainly has talent. Several pitchers in the system seem to have passed him on the depth chart as starters — but the Cubs could use some relief help. Why not try a guy who’s already on the 40-man roster?

There are lots of pitchers who have turned into good relievers after, as Andrew Chafin noted on his Obvious Shirt, been a “failed starter.” Why not Kilian?


The Cubs should try Caleb Kilian in relief...

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