20 April 2017
What’s to be done about the Cubs’ struggling bullpen?
Over the last week, there has seemingly been total panic over the Cubs’ bullpen and the results they produced in the series with the Pirates and Brewers. Stay calm, this, like all other things, will work itself out.
The pitching has actually been all around awful, as the starting pitching was almost worse. While the lineup didn’t fire on all cylinders in the Pirates series, the pitching is the reason the Cubs dropped four straight before finally getting back in rhythm.
The bullpen has been bad, or very not good if you want to be optimistic. During the last two series the bullpen has given up 15 runs, 13 of them earned. That’s an average of about two and a half runs per game – not what you want.
If they kept that pace over the course of an entire season, they would give up around 350 runs. That would be an impressive ERA, if it were for the whole staff. However, that does not include the starters, who actually gave up more runs over the last two series than the bullpen.
The starting rotation gave up 20 runs to the Pirates and Brewers. They gave up over three runs a game during the two series. If you’re keeping score on your own, that’s five earned runs per game over the last week. That is on par with the 5-15 San Diego Padres . . . yikes.
Everyone has been bad – except Jon Lester and Hector Rondon. Kenji Uehara had a bad outing for the first time in a long time. Kyle Hendricks is still trying to figure it out. Brett Anderson looked awful in his start, John Lackey didn’t look great, and Mike Montgomery got got. But there is hope!
The Cubs are still tenth in the league in earned run average with an ERA of 3.45. Overall, the starting pitching has been excellent over the course of the season. Hendricks has looked the most off and the Cubs still won his start on Wednesday.
Strikeouts has yet again been a strength of this pitching staff, they are eighth in the league with 128 punch-outs on the season. As long as the ERA stays low and the strikeout rate stays up, the Cubs should be able to weather the storm until someone on the back end figures out what they’re doing.
Hector Rondon is one to look out for in the near future. He has worked on his mechanics over the off-season and into the season and looks to be gaining more command of his fastball and slider.
If he can get his slider back to peak shape, Rondon can be a dominant force coming out of the pen to set up for Carl Edwards Jr. and Wade Davis.
The bonus factor in all of this is Joe Maddon, who seems to push all the right buttons at all the right times. He’ll figure out what needs to be done and push to acquire someone before the deadline if it will help the Cubs.
The pitching has struggled and blown some games, but the Cubs will find their groove and settle in for at least 90 wins.