Chicago Cubs: Long season taking its toll on many teams’ bullpens


Fatigue an issue for all teams as season winds down, not just the Cubs

I know that you’re frustrated by the Chicago Cubs‘ bullpen as of late. I am too. Games slipping away late are hard to swallow. But it’s not necessarily a case of the players “being terrible”. Some are just struggling. Slumps. A lull. even simply tired. Whatever you want to call it. And the Cubs aren’t the only team dealing with it. Take a look at the St. Louis Cardinals. Once they seemed untouchable. Now they’ve lost eight out of ten, are allowing runs by the truckload and are very much mortal.

The bullpen woes are real, and you can’t head into the postseason with guys you can’t trust to protect leads or hold teams at bay. But the roster is what it is now. Nobody can be added that will be a factor in October. Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon is going to have to work with what he’s got. Almost everyone at his disposal has had an impressive stretch at some point, but many seem to be showing the wear of a long season.

Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon are both in the top 20 in appearances with 68 and 65 respectively. While the innings are minimal, the pitches are adding up. Jason Motte was creeping up the list before his injury. Those three and the high number of appearances were why the Cubs tried guys like Rafael Soriano and most recently Fernando Rodney. Soriano was a bust, jury still out on Rodney. 

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The Cubs recently activated Neil Ramirez, who they expected to be a key piece of the pen this season. Yoervis Medina was also called-up from Iowa. Carl Edwards Jr. is another that could play an important role once Maddon can find spots to get him more experience. These are for the most part “fresh” arms, and should help down the stretch.

It’s 162 game season, and this year it’s looking to be at least 163. The Cubs need a few of these guys to push through the fatigue and come up big in the final weeks. And then squeeze out a few more weeks after that. The longer you play in into October, the less you’re likely to feel tired.

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