Jeremiah Ramiro Estrada throws the ball in the upper 90s. The Indio, Ca native was the Cubs’ sixth-round pick in 2017 and made his MLB debut in 2022, He did fairly well, got into five games, threw 5⅓ innings, and in that small sample ended up with a 3.18 ERA and eight strikeouts, enough for the Cubs to dream on.
2023 hasn’t been as kind to him since his season debut in mid-May (callup May 15). He gives up home runs with frightening frequency, having given up four in 10⅔ innings this year (through Sunday), and sports an ERA over 6 and a WHIP over 2. He has walked 12 batters so far.
I’m not entirely sure why he is still in the Majors. There’s nothing wrong with his arm but his mechanics are questionable and his location certainly leaves a lot to be desired. He kicks serious butt as a minor-leaguer, having thrown 97 innings, ringing up a splendid 1.84 ERA and a spectacular 149 strikeouts.
He throws a four-seam fastball, a slider, and a change-up. He does possess a curve ball but hasn’t thrown one in MLB. This year, he’s throwing 85% fastballs and he might just want to change the pitch mix a little, even if his slider and change are nothing special. The league is signaling that they can time his pitches very well.
He’s likely to be the next player in Iowa when people start coming off the IL. There’ll be a good bit of video work after that, I’d guess, trying to zero in on what can work in the future. That arm is going to keep him on the roster, for now — he’s not eligible for arbitration til 2027. But his lack of MLB success is worth thinking about. His 40-man spot is probably not safe.
Estrada was viewed as a potential closer. He might still be, but the urge to install him at the position is probably less urgent at this juncture. The requirements of the position include getting people out, and he’s not doing especially well at that right now. The luster is off.
In retrospect, he was likely moved up too soon and would have benefitted from more conditioning after two seasons lost to injury and COVID. He’s just 24 and there’s still plenty of time for him to grow into a role in the major-league bullpen.
His time is not now, though.
One of the guys with the highest ceilings in the entire Cubs system is right-hander Jeremiah Estrada. With a blazing fastball in the upper 90s and a slider that ranks among the best on the team, Estrada is projected to be a long-term bullpen weapon. — Rich Eberwein.
We haven’t seen that slider this year. What he’s been throwing doesn’t have a ton of action, either lateral or on a vertical plane. His change has been coming in around 90-91, and that might not be enough of a disparity to upset batters’ timing.
To the eye test, Estrada, 24, was not at his best in the big leagues late last year, but (1) he pitched so little in 2021 (and not at all in 2020) that I’m sure he was wearing down a bit after such a long season in his return; (2) his pitches still graded out really well; and (3) he still posted a 3.18 ERA and 32.0% K rate over his five appearances.
Given the caliber of his pitches, and the rapidity of his rise last year from High-A all the way to MLB, it would be silly NOT to expect that he’ll make an impact this year in the big league bullpen (barring injury). — Brett Taylor.
That hasn’t worked out so far — but we still hold out hope.