By Todd Johnson
In 2014, MLB Pipeline said the following of a young Eddie Butler:
Butler throws his fastball in the mid-90s and can reach 99 mph. His wipeout slider is his best offspeed pitch, and his changeup and curveball give him a chance for four average-or-better offerings. Butler has had command problems in the past, but his walk rate improved throughout 2013, and his loose, easy delivery should make it possible for him to pound the zone at a high rate.
What a difference a year made…John Sickels at the end of the 2015 season said:
“Although he can still hit 96-97 MPH, observers who have watched him pitch frequently report that his slider is not as sharp as it was two years ago, his fastball doesn’t have as much action low in the zone, and the decline in his harder stuff has reduced the efficacy of his change-up.“
Large ERAs and HR totals were alarming and in contrast to actually very low numbers in the minors.
When the Cubs made the trade for Butler, I thought that Chris Bosio and Jim Brower could get Butler to return to his 2014 form. It only took one day (apparently). Bosio had them go back to his old windup. According to Twitter, he was getting his old movement on his pitches. I have some slight hesitation in believing that, but I’m excited to see what other physical and mental adjustments Bosio and Brower employ.
For me, I don’t think there’s a rush, I think the Cubs have a year to get him corrected. If they can fix him, the former top 2014 MiLB prospect could be a boon to the Cubs for the next four to five years. And, Butler still has an option to go to the minor leagues. The Cubs may use that as they will likely err on the side of caution.
95-97 mph fastball
Only 25 years old
Areas of Concern
Lack of movement
Next Up in 2017
Iowa and/or Chicago
What I would like to see
I would like to see him return to his 2014 form when he threw between 95 and 97 with his fastball and a slider that has a lot of movement. Sometimes a change of scenery does a player good. In this instance, I think it’s going to be a change of voices. While he is technically not a prospect, if Butler returns to form, he could easily be the top young pitcher in the system.
I get a little giddy thinking about the fact that the Cubs maintain control of his contract for several years. For a pitcher, he’s just getting ready to enter his prime years and all the Cubs gave up for him was a relief pitcher, a good one at that.