Chicago Cubs: High scoring offense helping the Cubs bullpen
The Chicago Cubs’ offense has been on a tear as of late. And the part of the team that is benefiting the most? The bullpen. Not having to be in constant high-leverage situations has been a breath of fresh air for most of the Cubs’ relievers.
In the course of the Chicago Cubs‘ five-game winning streak, the team has outscored their opponents 51-17. And they posted eight or more runs in four straight, 14 or more twice in those four. The offense is clicking, and it’s making things easier not only on the starters as they’re pitching with a lead but the bullpen who’s getting the chance to pitch in lower-leverage situations.
One of the biggest concerns for the Cubs was the number of first-inning runs the team allowed. That seems like years ago that we were concerned about that, but it was just earlier this summer. Joe Maddon didn’t have many arms he could trust in those high-leverage spots, and it was starting to catch up with the Cubs.
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Who to count on?
Koji Uehara was one of his favorites, but it looks like his regular season could be over with as the back tightness has kept him from pitching. Carl Edwards was once one of the go-to guys. But his issues with walks have dropped him from the list. And Justin Wilson, the Detroit Tigers closer they picked up in a trade? A shell of himself since he came to the Cubs.
He’s walked 14 batters in 13 innings and has a 6.23 ERA since joining the Cubs. Compare that to the 2.68 ERA he came over with, and there’s reason to be concerned. So much so, the Cubs moved Mike Montgomery back to the bullpen for insurance. The Cubs still have faith that Wilson will get things turned around, and pitching in some of these blowout games is the perfect chance for a pitcher to gain some confidence.
The two pitchers out of the pen that has instilled faith in me have been Wade Davis and Brian Duensing. Davis has been perfect in save opportunities–sometimes shaky, but still perfect. While Duensing has been perfection when looking at bargain buys for relief pitchers. A slow start to the season for him had people–especially me–thinking he wouldn’t be around long. But he’s had a career-year with a 2.51 ERA as he’s been as steady as they come out of the bullpen.
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With 14 games left, the Cubs could use a few more “blowouts” as they’ve had. Hector Rondon is temporarily shut down with elbow discomfort. Felix Pena and Justin Grimm have struggled to have clean innings in mop-up duty. There are plenty of good arms in the Cubs’ pen, just not good arms currently throwing strikes. In that case, keep scoring offense.