The last part of the season preview is the bullpen. The Cubs’ had a good bullpen last year and here is a look at how it shapes up this year.
The Cubs bullpen is not yet complete and Dale Sveum said it might not be finished until Wednesday, one day before Opening Day. The final two spots are being fought for by Manny Corpas, Rodrgio Lopez and Shawn Camp. The rest of the bullpen is set.
Closer- Carlos Marmol
Set-up- Kerry Wood
Middle Relief- Rodrigo Lopez, Rafael Dolis, James Russel, 2 of Corpas, Lopez and Camp
This is a shaky bullpen on paper, but it might not be as bad as it looks.
Carlos Marmol had an awful season last year, but is continuing to develop and it might help him that Zambrano is gone and not looking over his shoulder and criticizing him. Here is the thing: if Marmol has consistent command and doesn’t walk the bases loaded, then he can return to be a 35+ save closer.
Kerry Wood had a solid season last year and had a few injury concerns this spring. He has returned again to the Cubs and will be in line for the closer role if Marmol can’t get it together. We know what we get with Kerry Wood. He will be solid.
The rest of the bullpen are all wild cards. Dolis has looked good in the spring, but he only pitched one major league game last year. It is hard to say what he will do, but he definitely has potential. James Russel is going to be looked to be the left-handed specialist. I think he is more than capable of this and he will continue to develop into a pitcher similar to Sean Marshall, but he will not be as good. Rodrigo Lopez is a very average long relief pitcher. The last three have varying talent levels and potentials. Shawn Camp has been the only one who has been consistent in the majors. Manny Corpas can have a big year if he stays healthy, he can also strike out a lot of batters. Lendy Castillo has looked great this spring and I think he is a favorite for one of those roster spots.
The bullpen will be a key this year. There is a lot of talk about trading Marlon Byrd for relief help before the start of the season and that would not shock me. This bullpen might need some help.