Chicago Cubs: Dillon Maples could give the bullpen a lethal boost

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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs prospect Dillon Maples has been lights-out as of late with Triple-A Iowa and has more than earned a promotion back to the big leagues.

A reliever with a wipeout slider and fastball near 100 mph seems like an obvious candidate for a promotion to the Chicago Cubs’ roster, right?

At quick glance, the answer is yes, promoting Dillon Maples to the big leagues is a no-brainer. The Cubs’ bullpen has dominated in 2018, pitching to a 2.72 ERA. Maples seemingly would add to the relief corps’ dominance.

The Iowa Express

Promoting Maples would also continue the trend of calling up relievers from Triple-A Iowa. Anthony BassLuke FarrellJustin HancockCory MazzoniRandy Rosario and Rob Zastryzny have relocated the Iowa bullpen to Chicago, in a sense.

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Essentially, half of the Cubs’ relievers started the year elsewhere. The team opened 2018 with 13 pitchers on their roster – five starters and eight relievers. This is still the case, though things have changed much since Opening Day.

For one, Yu Darvish landed on the disabled list retroactive to May 23, with Mike Montgomery starting in his absence. Montgomery joining the rotation created a void in the bullpen. Carl Edwards Jr. going on the disabled list May 30 hardly helped matters.

The Iowa relievers have played a large role in the Cubs’ pitching dominance. While Maples struggled early on with Iowa, his showing so far in June makes him not getting promoted rather curious.

Pure dominance

In 24 games this season, Maples has a 3.47 ERA in 23 1/3 innings. He has 39 strikeouts compared to 22 walks (a rather high number), though opponents are hitting just .181 against him.

Those numbers are solid, but what Maples has done in June is far more impressive. He has a 0.00 ERA and 15 strikeouts in eight June appearances with Iowa. This is compared to just four walks and opponents are hitting a minuscule .115 against him.

It seems like Maples has taken a turn for the better, and yet the Cubs keep passing him up for promotion. The aforementioned relievers have pitched well, so this makes some sense.

Next: Growing concerns for Kyle Hendricks?

At the same time, though, the team can only push aside what Maples has done for so long. He has earned another chance in the MLB, and that chance should come sooner rather than later.

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