Can Eddie Butler answer the Cubs’ No. 5 starter question?



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ST. LOUIS — Before the start trading away coveted prospects for pitching, they’ll stay in-house for a tryout.

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Right-hander replaces the ineffective and injured in the rotation as the Cubs seek to find some consistency from their starters. Who is Butler and what can he bring to Chicago’s staff when he takes the mound against the first-place on Friday night?

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A first-round pick in the 2012 draft, the 26-year-old Butler was acquired after bottoming out with the . His career 6.50 ERA tells the story of his Coors Field struggles, but so far with the Cubs he has been lights out.

Game Joaquin Benoit Jersey “He’s a guy that relies on heavy sink with his fastball, so when he’s right he’s getting a lot of ground balls,” Hoyer said.

Kids Joaquin Benoit Jersey Butler compiled a 1.17 ERA in five Triple-A starts after impressing the organization with a 0.95 WHIP in five spring-training appearances. He’s the classic change-of-scenery guy, especially as a pitcher getting away from Coors Field, where he couldn’t get his sinker to produce grounders the way he must to succeed. In fact, he averaged more fly ball outs than ground balls with the Rockies.

The thin air of Denver didn’t help matters, but not all of his struggles can be blamed on pitching in Colorado. His career road ERA is 5.40, and according to ESPN Stats & Information, his ground ball-to-fly ball rate was nearly identical from home (49 percent) to road (51 percent). At least now he’ll be able to use his four pitches more evenly at Wrigley Field and on the road.

“He has to put the ball on the ground, and when we’re right as a team, that’s something we do exceptionally well,” Hoyer said. “We convert balls on the ground to outs.”

If Butler lasts more than a couple of innings, he’ll be an improvement over Anderson, who totaled 1 2/3 over his past two starts. That, combined with 13-inning and 18-inning games over the course of eight days, set the Cubs up for failure and, of course, a taxed bullpen.

Now, it’s Butler’s turn to try to go deep into games. If he succeeds, it’s his job to keep.

“We have confidence in him,” Hoyer said.

Even if Butler takes hold of a spot in the rotation, the Cubs are still going to be searching for pitching this summer, though.

“We don’t have the luxury of waiting,” Hoyer said. “I think we’ll always be looking for it. One of the frustrations so far has been inconsistent pitching, but it’s been healthy besides Anderson. We have to think about the next layer of pitching [in case of injury].”

Butler’s performance will go a long way in determining how much pitching the Cubs will look to acquire, and he won’t be eased into anything because the rival Cardinals have won six in a row to take hold of the division lead.

“Hopefully Eddie can give us a good start on Friday,” Hoyer said.

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