Dallas Beeler is about to go from 41st-round pick to Tommy John surgery survivor to major league starter.
The Cubs said Wednesday that the righthander would start the first game of a doubleheader Saturday against the Nationals.
The Oral Roberts alum, now 25, missed much of the 2013 season at Double-A Tennessee because of a torn tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand. But he went 4-2, 3.13 in nine starts in 2013, and excelled in the Arizona Fall League (4-1, 2.49).
Beeler tossed five fine innings in the AFL title game in a losing effort, giving up just two hits and one walk while striking out five.
He’s 5-3, 4.03—but a 3.48 FIP—this season at Triple-A Iowa, but has allowed only seven hits and three earned runs over his past 12 innings.
Despite his 6-foot-5 frame, Beeler is not a power pitcher in the purest sense, although his fastball can touch 94. He uses a slurvy slider as his main breaking ball and likes to pitch to contact. He has generated two groundouts for every fly out this season and in his career he has averaged more than 50 percent groundouts.
The key to his season has been the splitter, which, coincidentally, he was injured throwing in 2013. He also added a cutter during his successful 2013 AFL run that helped him neuter righthanders, but he still struggled with lefties (35 H in 30.1 IP, 11 BB, 3 HR) at Iowa this season.
For his career, he’s averaged about 2.5 strikeouts to walks, but allows more than a hit per inning. He balances that with his low walk rate and even lower HR/9 rate of 0.6. He hasn’t allowed a home run in his past 25 2/3 innings at Iowa, for example.
WHAT TO EXPECT
While this is probably a one-shot callup for Beeler, his successful AFL stint showed he has the makings of a back-end National League starter or an effective middle reliever. His ability to control righthanded hitters could be an asset out of the bullpen if he can remain healthy.
At the least, Beeler could be a solid grab-and-stash fantasy prospect who could give a fantasy owner decent innings and a win or two and some holds, if your league allows.