Chicago Cubs: Bullpen cannot succumb to burnout

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Reflective of the past

Concerning ERA and xFIP, the 2016 relief squad was top ten in all of baseball. Interestingly enough, however, that only equated to a 3.2 WAR, good for 19th in baseball. To put that into perspective, the Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, and Miami Marlins all posted more Wins Above Replacement.

The Cubs did finish in the top echelon regarding the number of innings pitched for a teams bullpen. Only the Toronto Blue Jays, White Sox, and Boston Red Sox ended their respective seasons with fewer innings logged.

Last season, with the expectations still enthroned with excellence, the clubs pen failed to live up to their championship-winning season. The squad found themselves overworked and, by the time October rolled back around, outmatched by strong teams.

The significant difference between the 2016 team and the 2017 team is, of course, the number of innings pitched. Imagine this for a second: the 2016 team finished the regular season with 470.2 in 503 total games, while the 2017 group finished with 559 innings in 531 games. It is nearly one-hundred more innings while only totaling only twenty-eight more games. Cubs fans should be hard-pressed to wonder why the bullpen produced such a disastrous season.

Another notable stat difference is traced back to the number of walks between the two seasons, respectively. Last season, the Cubs bullpen allowed 264 bases on balls. The previous season was much cleaner, at just 199. Walks are the bane of a pitchers existence, starting or not, which is another part of the missing equation to such a drop-off.