In a move that's sure to put Ramon Ortiz into a deep funk, the Cubs sent Ryan Buchter to Atlanta for veteran inning eater Rodrigo Lopez. I don't like the term inning eater, but it applies. He'll get you into the sixth inning, throw strikes and get hit hard.
Lopez is a 35-year old native of Mexico who has been in pro ball since 1993. The Padres signed him in 1995 after he had been pitching as a teenager in the Mexican League. 16 years later the Cubs will be his seventh big league franchise and sixth Major League team. The Braves gave him a shot this Spring, but that ended after a March 31 exhibition start in Turner Field.
The Cubs faced Lopez twice in recent years, once seeing him in a Phillies uniform and more recently as a Diamondback. So this is now the third annual Rodrigo Lopez post. Really not much to say, as we already learned about his new fifth pitch (curveball) last year.
Click images to enlarge. PITCHf/x data is from MLBAM but the pitch classifications are my own.
On a scouting scale, derived from PITCHf/x metrics moving 10 points per standard deviation from the mean, Lopez is a 65 strike thrower but 35 bat misser--his stuff is not very good, but it's in the zone.
Contact quality is another problem, he's around 40-45. Clearly a step below average, the ball is usually in the air but, well, let's just say it's not like pop flies are dominating the mix. Whatever the type, his nkSLG adds up to .586 and 9.7% of his flies and liners clear the outfield fence.
Let's put that together. Throws strikes. Pitches to contact. Gets hit harder than average.
Lopez's fastball is his best pitch, rating closer to average. That's right, his best pitch is his meh fastball. Put this guy out there back-to-back with Doug Davis and enjoy!
Buchter moves on to his third organization, having been acquired from the Nationals for Matt Avery in 2008. The lefty has averaged 10.7 strike outs and 6.0 walks per nine innings in his minor league career.
This makes the cost of acquiring Lopez seem very low. The cost of feeding Lopez innings is another question.