Chicago Cubs: Will the bullpen be able to hold up against the Cardinals?
By David Miniel
On Sunday evening, the Chicago Cubs suffered a 4-3 walk-off loss at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals. Although their starter turned in five innings of solid baseball, they couldn’t control their division rival.
Right now, all eyes are on the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen. Honestly, this club hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to that specific spot of the depth chart. Do you remember the infamous Carlos Marmol?
Sure, Marmol had his moments but it felt like if he wasn’t walking someone, he was giving up free bases by hitting batters. His wild slider that had crazy break almost always caught the man standing in the box.
Last year, Joe Maddon‘s bullpen had some trouble but it wasn’t all that bad. With the loss of Travis Wood and Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs went searching for replacements. New faces, fresh arms, and high expectations.
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Well, somewhat fresh if we’re talking about veteran reliever Koji Uehara. Uehara wasn’t necessarily the problem on Sunday night. The right-hander gave up a hit and issued a walk in his Cubs debut.
Walks appeared to be a serious issue for this club as all five Cubs pitchers combined for eight on the night. Meanwhile, the Cardinals used only two arms being Carlos Martinez and Seung Hwan Oh.
Despite Oh giving up a game-tying three-run homer to Willson Contreras in the ninth inning, things looked great for St. Louis. Martinez gave up six hits to the Cubs but didn’t allow a single runner to score.
Which is the plus for the current first-place Cardinals. They had more strikeouts than the Cubs with 12 without walking a single hitter. Seemingly, the Cubs were outgunned and eventually sent back to their hotel with a loss.
A World Series hero took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, shortly after Contreras leveled the playing field. Instead of coming out strong, Mike Montgomery found himself in a bit of trouble.
Things got interesting when he intentionally walked Yadier Molina after giving up a double to Jose Martinez. At the end of the night, Grichuk delivered another blow, sending Cardinals fans home happy.
Yes, the Cubs had trouble holding the Cardinals back late but it was only the first game of the season. Surely, Monday’s off-day gave skipper Joe Maddon the opportunity to talk to his guys to remind him of who they are.
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They are the World Series champions and are not in the same position as they were back in 2015 when they shook the league. If they continue to pitch this way later on down the line without making adjustments, then it’s time to worry.
Until then, let’s just sit back and let them do what they do best. Hopefully, Maddon won’t have to go to the bullpen right away in Game 2 of this three-game opening set.