Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers poised for years of showdowns
By Jake Misener
Chicago Cubs need late-inning answers in the bullpen
When it comes to the ninth inning, I genuinely have no idea what the Chicago Cubs will look like in 2018. Wade Davis will be one of the most highly sought-after arms available on the free agent market this winter. And, to be blunt, he was the team’s only reliable reliever come postseason play.
Carl Edwards Jr. could be that guy. But, down the stretch, he faded and by the time October rolled around, he was running on fumes. If he can pitch like he did early in the year, then he might be the answer.
But you can’t be sure. Pedro Strop, meanwhile, is a quality setup man – whether you like how he wears his hat. In five seasons on the North Side, he owns a sub-3.00 ERA – including a 69-appearance 2017 campaign in which he put up a 2.83 ERA.
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The rest of the gang set to return: Hector Rondon, Justin Wilson, Justin Grimm and Mike Montgomery. After peaking in 2015, Rondon has trended in the wrong direction. After the Cubs made a deadline deal to pick up Wilson and Alex Avila, the left-hander forgot how to throw strikes. Grimm is a question mark at this point and Montgomery will once again serve as a swing man.
The best closer in baseball?
For Los Angeles, Kenley Jansen is locked up for the next four years. He is indisputably the best closer in the National League – maybe even all of baseball. You’ll also have whoever doesn’t make the cut in the rotation out there in the Dodgers’ pen.
But the Dodgers face several impending free-agent departures in Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Similar to the Cubs, Los Angeles will be a big player in the Hot Stove market this offseason – and you can expect the bullpen to the at the top of Andrew Friedman’s wish list.
This one is hard because of the impending free agencies on both sides. But, when you boil it down, the Dodgers have a ninth-inning answer and the Cubs do not. At least not a clear one.