Seeking to add bullpen depth, the Chicago Cubs needn’t look further than Oakland Athletics right-hander Blake Treinen, who’s enjoying a career season.
Adding a big bat hardly seems likely, despite the injuries and underperformance that have plagued both Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant this season. The Chicago Cubs still rank near the top of the league in virtually every offensive statistic – despite the wavering contributions of their big boppers.
The same can be said for the performance of the relief corps. The Chicago bullpen has been largely lights-out this year. For the first time in the Joe Maddon era, though, injuries are taking a toll. Since 2015, the Cubs have been remarkably healthy. The only major injury? Kyle Schwarber‘s season-ending knee injury in early 2016.
Along with KB, Yu Darvish, Carl Edwards and Brandon Morrow are all sidelined with injuries. Follow this line of thinking and you’ll understand why it seems likely the Cubs will add pitching ahead of next month’s trade deadline.
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And we’re not talking about a depth piece at this point. If Chicago wants to have a shot at a third consecutive NL Central crown, they need a big-time arm.
Enter Blake Treinen.
Star power? Not really.
He’s probably the best reliever you’ve never heard of. The soon-to-be 30-year-old is enjoying tremendous success in Oakland this year. In 31 appearances, the right-hander carries a sterling 0.93 ERA, 1.78 FIP and 0.879 WHIP.
There’s absolutely zero doubt he’s headed to his first All-Star Game. We’re talking about a guy with a 431 ERA+ this season, averaging just under 11 strikeouts per nine. Another bit that makes him more enticing to the Cubs? A 4.70 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Pairing the right-hander, who boasts a 99 mph sinker in his repertoire, with the likes of Edwards, Morrow and Pedro Strop gives Chicago a near-super pen. That gives you a bridge from seventh to ninth, with Justin Wilson and Randy Rosario providing answers from the left side.
A safety net and a mentor
Speaking of Morrow, Treinen could benefit tremendously from working with the Cubs closer. Morrow has a bulldog mentality, one that late-inning relievers seem to thrive on. Not only can Morrow mentor Treinen, but should injuries pop up and sideline the former, the A’s reliever could slot seamlessly into the closer’s role.
With team control until 2021, he won’t come cheap. But, if the Cubs truly want to address one of their biggest needs ahead of the deadline, this is the move. Find the pieces – even if it means dealing a guy off the big league roster.
This bullpen is endlessly better with Blake Treinen than without.