Chicago Cubs: Team ready to lock and load in the pen?
Make no mistake about it. The Chicago Cubs’ bullpen has been really, really good this season. Maddon’s relief corps ranks third in terms of ERA (2.67), first in batting average against (.202) and second in fewest earned runs allowed (72 in 242 2/3 innings).
But they’re also racking up quite the workload. Steve Cishek, Justin Wilson Brian Duensing and Pedro Strop are all on-pace for north of 70 appearances this season. That’s just not sustainable. By the time the Cubs hit October, the pen will be running on fumes. We learned last year what a team running on empty looks like.
(It’s not pretty).
Similar to Hand, Kelvin Herrera represents one of the best relievers in the game today – and he comes with postseason appearance under his belt. This year, he’s actually outpitched Hand, posting an identical 0.73 WHIP and 0.73 ERA. And, unlike guys like Wilson or Strop, both of whom have a tendency to lose the zone – he is yet to walk a batter.
It sounds good – but count on this. A deal to acquire any of these guys will absolutely mean losing a young, high-quality piece (or multiple) off the big league roster. We’re talking Albert Almora, Ian Happ, Victor Caratini, Addison Russell, etc.
The Cubs can improve at this deadline. But, unlike in the last two years, it’ll be a delicate balancing act for Epstein and the front office to keep the offensive core while also shoring up other areas.