Chicago Cubs: A mixed bag in offseason bullpen moves
There were a lot of decisions made regarding the bullpen last offseason. The Cubs initially went with Eddie Butler over Justin Grimm on Opening Day. Pedro Strop avoided his final year of arbitration by signing a two-year contract extension.
Hector Rondon was non-tendered and the Cubs signed Steve Cishek as a free agent. Cishek had by far had the best season of all of the free agents the Cubs signed last year. But after the closer, the second-biggest transaction with the bullpen was Brian Duensing.
Duensing signed a two-year, $7 million contract before the 2018 season after a successful 2017 season with the Cubs. His end of year numbers look terrible (ERA 7.65 in 37 2/3 innings). However, Duensing didn’t give up a run in his first 17 games and he only gave up one run through his first 23 appearances.
So Duensing didn’t have a terrible season. He had a terrible injury-filled second half or so. That’s not nearly as bad a story. Duensing may be able to bounce back and be more of the pitcher he was in 2017 and the beginning of 2018.
However, there is a possible warning here. Veteran pitchers who suddenly turn things around might not keep things turned around for long. So when the Cubs are considering re-signing Jesse Chavez and Jorge De la Rosa this winter, they should have some evidence that they can continue to pitch at or near the high level that they did at the end of last season.