Chicago Cubs: Bullpen primed to take a leap in 2018

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Sunday the Chicago Cubs did what we’ve all expected since their loss in mid-October. They added to their bullpen.

The Chicago Cubs signed Brandon Morrow–one of the key pieces to the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen in 2017–to a two-year contract with an option Sunday afternoon. With the status of Wade Davis still up in the air, Morrow could very well be the closer on the Northside in 2018.

Per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, The Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals are likely suitors for Davis. We will see.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have stated time and time again that pitching will be the priority this offseason. I believe they’re not done retooling the bullpen.

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Bad memories from the pen

There are some bad memories from the bullpen this past October, but the Cubs already had one of the best bullpens in the National League last season.

When the Cubs starting rotation struggled in the first half, it was the bullpen that kept them in games.

Carl Edwards Jr. was very good for a reliever in his first full season in the majors. Joe Maddon trusted him more than any other reliever despite his struggles he went through.

Pedro Strop was reliable in games in October, while posting an ERA under 3.00 in 2017 as well.

Last year’s surprise

Brian Duensing was a pleasant surprise, who got inserted into higher leverage situations as the season progressed. He finished with a 2.74 ERA in 62.1 innings. He’s a free agent, but it could be interesting if the front office extends his contract or not.

Mike Montgomery was the Cubs most versatile reliever as a spot starter, middle and long relief pitcher and in late-inning situations. He pitched in 130 innings. Depending on the rest of the offseason, Montgomery could be in the starting rotation next season.

And Davis blew one save all season in 33 chances. He was able to pitch multiple innings in October as well.

With the Cubs adding Morrow, they could potentially have the best bullpen in baseball. And that’s without adding anyone else. They also have Dillon Maples, who is a hot commodity in the minor league system that could play a part of the bullpen next season, too.

Can he bounce back?

Justin Wilson is also primed to bounce back after a disastrous second half in 2017. Wilson posted a 2.68 ERA with the Detroit Tigers as their closer last season before the trade.

The problem the Cubs had in the bullpen was the high amount of walks. With the addition of new pitching coach Jim Hickey, the Cubs hope he can help change that problem.

If these problems can be addressed and fixed, a mixture of Edwards, Morrow, Wilson, Montgomery and Strop in the late innings is good.

Next: They aren't trading Schwarber

Davis could be a sleeper signing by the front office as well, despite what many believe.

Once the free agent acquisitions are finished, the bullpen could look even better because the front office isn’t finished.

Happy Winter Meetings!