Commentary

Fantasy spin: Trachsel to the Cubs

Updated: August 31, 2007, 4:03 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Steve Trachsel's career finally has come full circle.

On Friday, the final day for teams to set their postseason rosters, he returned to the Chicago Cubs, who acquired him from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for infielder Scott Moore and right-handed reliever Rocky Cherry. That puts Trachsel back in the city he called home from 1993-99, and in a contender's rotation, presumably bumping Sean Marshall.

Fantasy owners, or at least NL-only ones considering a Trachsel addition, can only hope for a better performance from him during this stint with the Cubs. He managed a 60-69 record and 4.35 ERA in his previous seven-year stint with the team, garnering more press for bad things -- he surrendered Mark McGwire's 62nd home run in 1998 and once lost 18 games (1999) -- than good, like when he made the 1996 All-Star team.

Dubbed the "Human Rain Delay" for being one of the slowest-working pitchers in baseball, Trachsel also has developed a reputation for walking more batters than he strikes out. Since 2005, he has allowed 159 free passes while striking out 148. This year alone, he has 69 walks compared to 45 strikeouts, not at all a trustworthy ratio. Really, that Trachsel has a 4.48 ERA through 25 starts -- he was actually at 3.39 through his first 11 -- is nothing short of remarkable. He's not at all overpowering, he's pitched the entire season to date in a hitting-rich division and his 4.41 walks per nine innings put him in the high-risk category.

Still, it can only help Trachsel that he's out of Baltimore. The Orioles had a brutal remaining schedule for a pitcher, with seven more games against the Red Sox, six against the Yankees, three against the Angels and four at Texas' bandbox ballpark. The Cubs, by comparison, get six more apiece against the Astros and Pirates, three against the ice-cold Dodgers and three at Florida's pitching-friendly Dolphin Stadium. In other words, Trachsel will get a far better chance at favorable matchups in the NL than he would have had in the AL.

Is it the right move for the Cubs? Not necessarily. Marshall, in his 17 starts since May 23, has a 4.04 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and .260 BAA; Trachsel, by comparison, has 4.84/1.68/.300 numbers in 16 starts since that date. Trachsel probably shouldn't supplant Marshall in the rotation, but what's important for fantasy is that he will. Marshall would have been the better matchups type, but Trachsel at least can be a matchups type.

As for Moore and Cherry, any value there? Moore is a 23-year-old, left-handed third baseman with underrated pop. Depending on what the Orioles do with their corner infield and designated hitter spots for 2008, he could be an AL-only sleeper next year. He was hitting .265 with 19 homers in 103 games for Triple-A Iowa, but since June 1 he was a .291 hitter (51-for-175) with 16 of those homers in 56 games.

Cherry, meanwhile, had a 2.42 ERA in 18 relief appearances for Iowa since July 1. He'll bring the Orioles bullpen depth, but in the best-case scenario could be an ERA/WHIP helper in AL-only leagues for next season.

Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.