After a bit of a rough start, the Chicago Cubs bullpen is starting to look a little more stable for manager Rick Renteria and pitching coach Chris Bosio. It’s had some early changes, and luckily only one injury with Jose Veras out, but the roles of each pitcher are beginning to take shape, even if Renteria won’t define those roles.
“I don’t want to define them as roles, yet I just want to define them as guys being used in certain situations to kind of help us finish a ballgame,” Renteria said. (h/t Jesse Rogers, ESPNChicago.com)
The bullpen role that always comes with the most notoriety is the closer. Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon have both had opportunities, and it may continue that way, but Rondon seems to have the leg up most recently. He boasts a 0.68 ERA, and a WHIP of 0.98. While he has only one save, the Cubs haven’t had many opportunities. But the recent success of the bullpen isn’t all Rondon.
Following last night’s 9-4 victory over the Reds, the bullpen raised its scoreless inning streak to 14. Recently called-up Neil Ramirez has had a brief, but excellent debut, striking out three in his two innings of work. That work consisted of his first strikeout against Ryan Braun the other night against Milwaukee, and then shutting down the heart of the Reds order on Wednesday to preserve the lead.
With the success the starters have had so far this year, a stabilized bullpen gives Cubs fans a little more faith and hope they can continue to be competitive. Only one team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, has been involved in more one-run contests. Even without labels and roles, it’s good to see consistency coming in the later innings for the Cubs pitchers. It can only help to add to whatever success the Cubs are able to find this season.