Chicago Cubs Breaking News: Team fires pitching coach Chris Bosio
By Jake Misener
In a surprise move, the Chicago Cubs fired pitching coach Chris Bosio Saturday, opening up a big hole on Joe Maddon‘s 2018 coaching staff.
The Chicago Cubs wasted no time in kicking off their offseason, making a move few expected in their reported firing of pitching coach Chris Bosio. For the last six years, the former big-leaguer served under several Cubs’ skippers – including Dale Sveum, Rick Renteria and Joe Maddon.
But, according to Bob Nightengale, the six-year run has come to an end. Just yesterday, Theo Epstein told reporters that Maddon would likely be able to bring back any coaches he wanted on his staff – so a change was clearly desired in the role.
Chicago’s bullpen, specifically, struggled in the postseason – posting an unsightly 6.21 earned run average and .254 opponent batting average in 37 2/3 innings of work. One season after Cubs starters put up a 2.96 ERA in the regular season, the staff regressed across-the-board in 2017.
The biggest issue for Cubs pitching in 2017? Control.
Chicago walked the most batters of any postseason team – and the fifth-highest total in the National League in the regular season. Last season, the team issued the sixth-lowest total of free passes in the NL. While the move definitely caught me off-guard, given the club’s struggles, it makes sense. You can’t be putting on batters like that – especially in the postseason.
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Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks both battled injuries at different points in the season. Jon Lester perhaps took the biggest step backward, as he regularly had to gut his way through even five or six innings when he toed the rubber. Jose Quintana was either unhittable or got lit up following the midseason crosstown trade – and John Lackey rebounded for a stronger second half.
Of course, Bosio has regularly garnered the bulk of the credit for turning Arrieta into the pitcher he is today. With the right-hander expected to hit the open market and don a different uniform in 2018, one has to wonder if this factored into the team’s decision.
Looking at some alternatives
In my mind, though, it isn’t so much what Bosio did wrong as it is there are several high-quality pitching coaches available for hire right now. Longtime Tampa Bay Rays coach Jim Hickey will be considered a top contender for the opening, as will former Washington Nationals’ pitching coach Mike Maddux, who was swept out after the club cleaned house this week.
Maddon, a guy who loves working with people he’s familiar with, will no-doubt seek a reunion with Hickey. He served as Maddon’s pitching coach for nearly a decade in Tampa. For that reason – and that reason alone – he has to be considered the favorite at the onset of this search. That being said, the Cubs won’t be alone in their pursuit of the Chicago native, either.
And, even outside of those two names, there are plenty of pitching coaches available at this time.
Bosio will land on his feet. He turned Jake Arrieta into a Cy Young Award winner. Not to mention, he nurtured Kyle Hendricks into a Cy Young contender himself. If the Cubs lure Hickey away from the Cardinals, Bosio may very well head down to St. Louis. But that remains to be seen.
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This is just the first foot to fall. The next few months will be incredibly active for the reigning National League Central champs.