Chicago Cubs: Jason Motte could return ahead of NLCS


After a dominant performance in Game 4 of the NLDS, the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen could get even deeper when they get Jason Motte back soon.

Motte, who hasn’t appeared in a game for Chicago since late August, threw a bullpen session before Tuesday’s win and told the Chicago Tribune that, in his mind, his shoulder passed this latest test.

"“The whole thing was to get myself ready, feel healthy and put myself in the conversation to maybe help the team,” Motte said."

Prior to his late-season injury, the former Cardinals closer went 8-1 with a 3.91 ERA to go along with a  3.09 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 57 games, including a half-dozen saves. It’s not the same level of dominance we saw from Motte when he was in his prime with St. Louis, but he was effective nonetheless.

In the Game 4 win, after Jason Hammel lasted just 3+ innings for manager Joe Maddon, the Chicago bullpen went on to toss six innings of two-run ball, as the seven hurlers allowed a total of five hits the rest of the way to send the Cubs to their first postseason clincher at Wrigley Field in franchise history.

At the back-end, it was Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon who closed the door yet-again, but you have to give a lot of credit to the work turned in by left-handed spot-starter Clayton Richard, who struck out Jason Heyward earlier in the game to keep things tied up.

So what role will we see Motte in should he return for the LCS?

It seems likely that he’ll get slotted into more than his fair share of tense situations given his track record in his first season under Maddon.

According to Baseball Reference, Motte excelled in “high-leverage” situations, holding opposing batters to a .200/.274/.308 line across 74 plate appearances. In particular, he was extremely effective against the New York Mets (4K, .222 OPS in 3IP), one of the Cubs’ potential NLCS opponents.

The late innings seemingly belong to Trevor Cahill, Strop and Rondon. That being said, Motte brings to the table something most of this relief corps lacks – postseason experience.

With St. Louis, he reached the World Series in 2011, also appearing in multiple Division and Championship Series games, pitching to a 2.08 ERA in 19 contests. Bringing the mental toughness and winning caliber to the table is something that you can’t quantify with numbers – it’s just something every team needs.

So after taking down the best team in Major League Baseball in four games, an already potent Chicago Cubs team could get even better with the return of their bearded right-hander.

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