Chicago Cubs: The bullpen has been solid; most of the time
Despite being solid for much of the year, the bullpen has had its bad days
Following play on Thursday, the Cubs own a 3.36 bullpen ERA. That mark is good enough for fifth best in the majors behind the Indians, Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees. Despite that solid ERA, the Cubs bullpen has struggled in a couple of games this season.
One of the most recent examples came on July 21 against the Cardinals. After starter Jake Arrieta had been pulled following the sixth inning, Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless seventh. With the Cubs ahead 3-2, Carl Edwards entered the game. After throwing 16 pitches, seven for strikes, Edwards was lifted, failing to record an out. Hector Rondon replaced Edwards and also failed to record an out. Finally, Joe Maddon turned to Justin Grimm who finished the game.
Despite entering the eighth inning with the lead, the Cubs’ bullpen yielded nine runs in the frame. Three of those runs were charged to Edwards who also walked two batters, while four runs were charged to Rondon who also walked two batters. Grimm, who came in to clean up the mess, allowed two runs of his own and walked three Cardinal hitters.
While the most recent bullpen meltdown was not as bad as the one on July 21, it was bad all the same.
Jose Quintana, the Cubs starter, worked five innings on Thursday against the Diamondbacks, allowing six earned runs. Tasked to work the sixth inning was Brian Duensing. Duensing ended up getting four outs, striking out two and allowing one hit. Replacing Duensing in the seventh was Pedro Strop who recorded both of his out via the strikeout. After Strop had departed, the wheels came off the Cubs’ bullpen.
Carl Edwards came into the game and threw just five strikes in 13 total pitches. Edwards once again failed to record an out and was charged with two earned runs.
Justin Wilson entered the game following Edwards. The lefty was able to get the Cubs out of the eighth after 24 pitches and two base hits.
With the game tied at eight, Maddon turned to Wade Davis in the ninth inning. Davis promptly issued four hits and two runs. Those two runs came via the home run and proved to be the difference in the Cubs’ 10-8 loss.