Jake Reindl – Picture by Todd Johnson

Last year went well when it came to predicting the Reliever of the Year. This year might be a little bit more difficult because there are some arms who could be coming back from injury who could return to form. We also have some guys that have learned some new pitches/grips over the winter that could change what they throw as well as how they throw it. You never know how quickly an arm’s fortunes could change anymore.

Last year’s predictions

Last year’s winner

Todd Johnson

Having guys that are close to the majors like Zac Leigh put a little kink in who I was going to predict. While I would like to pick Zac, he could move quickly towards to Chicago. As a result, I’m going to surprise no one and snag jake Reindl. The only questions I have about Reindl revolve around his ability to stay healthy. I picked him to win most of the reliever stat categories last week so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I picked him – well actually I am just picking his slider…and hair…

Other players I considered included Sheldon Reed, Johzan Oquendo, Saul Gonzalez, and even Chase Watkins.

Greg Huss

Ben Leeper would be my answer here if I didn’t think he would see at least half the season in the bigs. If I was looking to get a little crazy, I would say Michael McAvene. But instead, I’ll just stick with the reliever that I believe has the best stuff in the system: Zac Leigh. There is a chance he sees some time in Chicago this year as well, but I’m thinking a Double-A opening day assignment means it wouldn’t be until the end of the year that he’s toeing the rubber in Wrigley. Leigh has a gross fastball when it’s up there in the mid-to-upper-90s, a slider that rivals Jake Reindl, and a mound presence you absolutely love to see.

Richard Colaizzi

Ryan Jensen- This selection for me was tough because it’s hard to predict which prospects project to be bullpen arms and start games in the minors.  Jensen has the skill set to be a back-end bullpen guy right now.  His arm talent is undeniable, it’s just those pesky BB’s that have to be limited.  You have to think the organization believes he is ready to take the next step, which is why he is on the 40-man roster.  If he limits those free passes, Jensen has a big league ready arm with 2-3 pitches he can showcase in a bullpen role.  This selection is also a “hope he figures it all out” one for me.  I have been a fan of Jensen since he was drafted in ‘19.

Greg Zumach

The Cubs can churn out pen arms and that wasn’t always the case. My recent 2020 MLB draft retrospective reminded me just how stark the contrast between now and then is. Entering 2020 fans were excited that the Cubs had turned the pitching development corner because Brad Wieck and Rowan Wick might be set-up arms. Now there wasn’t even enough room in the Chicago pen for Cam Sanders and Jeremiah Estrada. We likely see both in Chicago soon so I avoided them for this exercise. Zac Leigh also has MLB caliber opportunities. I was left with two guys, Jake Reindl and Bailey Horn. I went with Horn for the pick this year. That flat angle fastball with rise and killer breaking ball… it plays.