Chicago Cubs: Let’s not forget about the value of Steve Cishek

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Carrying the load

It is no secret to Cubs fans Steve Cishek was overworked this season. He appeared in nearly half of the games during the regular season, registering 80 games in total. The next closest guy to him was Justin Wilson,who appeared in 71 contests. That being said, Cishek led the reliever corps in total innings, firing 70 1/3 throughout his season.

The first month of the season saw Cishek appear in 14 games, pitching 13 1/3 innings. As the depth of the clubs bullpen was seemingly hefty, to see Cishek get so much work to start his season could have been seen as a precursor for things to come. In that span, Cishek finished with a 2.70 ERA, with a strikeout percentage of 20.0 percent and a walk rate of 16.7 percent. Despite the wildness, Cishek somehow managed to hold hitters to a .188 batting average and did not give up a single home run.

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By the midpoint of the regular season, Cishek had appeared in 45 games and held an insanely low 1.88 ERA with an excellent 27 percent strikeout rate and a decreased walk rate of just 9.8 percent. He held hitters to an even lower average at .178 with a 3.11 FIP. Cishek was on.

In the second half, while his overall production did drop a little bit, Cishek was still very impressive by the standard of relief pitchers, pitching to a 2.88 ERA in 35 games. While his FIP did jump up to a 3.97, his strikeout rate was still at its height of 27.2 percent, and his walk rate dropped to 9.7 percent. Cishek was even wholly limiting his home runs as he finished the season with a 0.99 HR/9 rate.

The importance of Cishek as mentioned before cannot be overshadowed by positive performances from the rest of the bullpen. Once Morrow went down right before the All-Star break, he was one who Joe Maddon and Jim Hickey came to rely on more and more. After uber setup man Pedro Strop went down with two weeks remaining in the regular season, Cishek was once again called upon and responded admirably, firing shutout ball in his limited work.