Is the Bullpen the Only Weak Link in Cubs Armor?

The beauty of the Cubs becoming the fastest team to 40 wins since the 116 win-2001 Seattle Mariners team is that any criticism is mostly nitpicking. If you follow Cubs twitter, it’s been a fun transformation from everyone freaking out at the smallest thing, to being called out for being disappointed in loss or bad at-bat. As a disclaimer, I know the Cubs are a very good team, firmly in place to challenge the win record. I understand players have ups and downs throughout the season. Blah, blah, blah.

But, if I may nitpick for just a moment, hidden behind how amazing the starting pitching has been with a collective 2.33 ERA and relentless the offense can be, the bullpen is pretty average.

Hector Rondon in limited work due to run differential, has been lights out even with the home run last night against the Phillies. Pedro Strop has been his usual self in high leverage situations having a 12.46 K/9 and a 2.80 FIP. Even Travis Wood has been a nice surprise, as the main lefty out of the pen. However, as a group, they rank 21st in FIP, 21st in WAR, 23rd in HR/9, and maybe worst of all 26th in BB/9. They are putting guys and getting themselves into trouble. You can see firsthand with the Cubs offense what getting on-base does to your ability to score runs.

The Cubs are 32-1 in games in which they score at least 5 runs, leaving just an 8-15 record in games they score 4 or fewer; 7-7 in one run games. Again let me reiterate when you are 40-16 and you are mostly blowing teams out, you have to nitpick a little. With so many blowouts, the bullpen hasn’t shown up in wins and losses. However, come October when the games are low scoring and every out matters, can we rely on Adam Warren, Trevor Cahill, and Justin Grimm? Warren and Cahill have had control issues of late with a 5.3 and 6.0 BB/9 rate respectively. While Grimm and Warren seem to have an issue with the long ball with 1.7 and 1.8 HR/9 respectively.

With a stocked farm, time will tell if Theo will pull the trigger on the Andrew Miller‘s of the world. We’ve seen the Royals win the World Series on the arms of the bullpen. I’ve been a fan long enough to know that I prefer to leave nothing to chance. If you are only as good as your weak link, the drought may be in the hands of the bullpen.


Featured Photo: Chicago Now

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Steve Kottra

Lead Writer and Editor-in-Chief of Warning Track Power. My all-time favorite player and goto whiffleball batting stance is Ken Griffey Jr. I was doing Geometry homework when Kerry Wood struck out 20.

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