The Chicago Cubs bullpen has overall been very good this season. With that being said, most effective bullpen pitchers have been righties. Will additions to the team in September help add lefty depth to the pen?
Much credit has to go to the bullpen for pitching so well this year, even without having their closer for a chunk of it. Going into Saturday the team has a 3.23 bullpen ERA which is fourth-best in baseball. Five relievers who have played in 35+ games have sub-three ERAs which has greatly helped.
One topic of conversation regarding the pen that seems to come up is how most of the production in the pen has come from right-handers. With Mike Montgomery going to the rotation in May, there have not been a lot of lefty options in the pen. Four of the five guys with sub-three ERAs mentioned above are righties (Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr.). The one lefty in that group is Justin Wilson.
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Wilson currently sports a 2.96 ERA and 3.52 FIP in 59 appearances. The only other lefty reliever to appear in 40+ games is the injured Brian Duensing (43), who has struggled this year with a 7.34 ERA and 1.835 WHIP. Randy Rosario has appeared in 32 games, totaling 39 innings, and he has been up and down between Triple-A and MLB all year. Wilson has been the only lefty performing as a consistent option in the pen this season.
Adding more southpaw depth.
Theo and Co. made a number of moves recently to add lefty depth to the pen. They picked up Jorge De La Rosa in early August and Jaime Garcia on the final day of the month. Not flashy additions, but could provide usefulness.
De La Rosa has pitched in seven games as a Cub and has a 0.90 ERA, 1.000 WHIP and 2.05 FIP in 10 innings. The former starter can go multiple innings out of the pen, which is good to have with how little rest these guys have gotten. He may not be a LOOGY, but a lefty option no less.
While Jaime Garcia is a former starter, he may be used as a LOOGY. His season with the Blue Jays was ugly overall, 5.93 ERA and 1.534 WHIP in 74 1/3 innings. However his splits against lefties are very good: .188/.250/.388 and only four home runs allowed on the year. This is an opportunity to use him in situations he can still thrive in, while they are limited, they are still useful.
Can lefty-lefty or righty-righty matchups be somewhat overrated? It really depends on the pitcher and hitter, some pitch and hit against certain matchups better or worse than others. There is a place for it, but it does not always apply. The lack of lefty depth this year overall has not hurt the team, but adding more here down the stretch with expanded rosters can certainly make things easier.