Cunnane was 29 last year, but for the first time in his career really pitched well (20 IP, 2.70 ERA), picked up three saves when Smoltz was out, and should be considered for a prime relief role this year. He’s pitched in the majors every year since 1997, but then he’s pitched in the minors in all the years after 1997. He’s a journeyman.
Cunnane was cut loose by the Cubs early last season and wound up in Richmond. He wasn’t pitching badly in Iowa, but apparently he had an injury or a temper tantrum or both. In Richmond, he threw 21 innings in 15 games, and didn’t allow an earned run. Finally, he was promoted to Atlanta.
Cunnane’s always had a good strikeout rate and good minor league numbers (career 2.94 minor league ERA) but had never managed to put it together in the majors. Last year, (a) he cut his walks down from his usual one every two innings to about one every three; (b) cut his homers down slightly; and (c) was a little hit-lucky, allowing a .189 BA. Personally, I think he’s been hit-unlucky for most of his career, and maybe his luck evened out. I don’t think he’ll be as good as he was in 2003, but he should be solid.