Chicago Cubs: A return of Carl Edwards will come at a good time

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Despite losing Carl Edwards Jr. to injury in late May, the Chicago Cubs bullpen has maintained a high level of success. But his absence is being felt as weeks pass.

On May 30, the Chicago Cubs placed right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. The injury hit the brakes on an otherwise outstanding season for the hard-throwing reliever.

Building upon his success from the year prior, he carried an impressive 2.88 earned run average in 25 innings of work. He had been particularly dominant against right-handed hitters. They managed an icy .161 average against him this season.

Last year, Edwards often struggled with command issues, walking himself into trouble often.

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In 2018, he reduced his walk rate to 4.3 walks per nine innings, down from 5.2 in the previous season. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is also up to 3.33, up from 2.47 last year.

Cubs fans got promising news on Edwards last weekend..

According to the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales, Edwards successfully played catch again on Sunday, and should throw off the mound at Wrigley this week:

The Cubs bullpen managed just fine without Edwards. But if he could return before the All-Star Break, it would certainly help the relief corps.

Everyone stepping up to pull the extra weight

In the month of June, after Edwards was placed on the DL, the Cubs bullpen ranks ninth in the majors in ERA at 2.87. While those numbers are not bad, in the month of May, the bullpen was even better, ranking third overall in ERA at 2.79.

The success of relievers Pedro Strop, Justin Wilson and Steve Cishek has helped the Cubs bullpen in the absence of Edwards, who had become Chicago’s go-to setup man until his injury. Strop and Cishek have been outstanding all season, with ERAs of 1.88 and 1.82, respectively. Wilson continues to bounce back from a rough second half of 2017. His ERA currently sits at 2.20.

However, Strop, Wilson and Cishek have also been used more than any of the other Cubs relievers—all have pitched at least 28 innings this season. At some point, that use is likely to catch up to them. Enter Carl Edwards Jr.

If Edwards can return before the All-Star Break, the balance of work between the relievers can become much more even. This could also help stave off future injuries to the bullpen.

A return for Edwards would only help an already strong bullpen get even better. Edwards showed many signs of success early on in the season, and as long as he is able to keep trending upward when he returns, he could be a key piece of one of the game’s best bullpens.

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The loss of Edwards may not be glaring yet, but his return could be huge for Chicago’s bullpen. It would be ideal if he could get healthy before the Midsummer Classic and help out a bullpen that is getting to be a bit taxed.