Chicago Cubs could play it safe and shock nobody this offseason
By Jake Misener
Harder to do – let’s fix the bullpen
The Chicago Cubs pitching staff imploded in October. Their self-inflicted wounds led to fatal wounds at the Los Angeles Dodgers stomped all over the reigning World Series champs in the NLCS.
As a staff, the Cubs walked 53 batters in 87 2/3 innings. Relievers alone issued 27 free passes in 37 2/3 frames (en route to a 1.650 WHIP and 6.21 ERA). The only guy you had any faith in during the postseason was closer Wade Davis, who departed for free agency at season’s end. So, suffice to say, there’s a lot of work to do here.
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First, let’s see what we have coming back. Longtime bullpen staples Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon both return. Strop comes off another strong year – while Rondon hopes he can figure out what went wrong in a disastrous 2017 campaign.
Justin Wilson, who was supposed to be the team’s big deadline acquisition last summer, was a dumpster fire for pretty much his entire Cubs’ tenure. New pitching coach Jim Hickey will no-doubt focus on getting the left-hander right ahead of 2018. Do that and Chicago boasts an impressive weapon they sorely lacked late this year.
Two moves could fix the pen
Justin Grimm and Carl Edwards will both be back in the mix, as well. After a white-hot start, it seemed fatigue caught up to Edwards in the second half. Another year of experience should help him better prepare. Grimm, meanwhile, suffered through the worst season of his Cubs career and is a question mark heading into 2018.
As for outside help, the pen could be shored up with a couple moves. First, I don’t see any way around it. Bringing back Davis to close things out has to be a top priority for Chicago. Pairing him with another free agent like Brandon Morrow could well prove to be enough to fix things.