Chicago Cubs need bullpen help, but boast several bounceback candidates

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Is Darvish the key to this team’s success?

In his first year as a member of the Chicago Cubs, Yu Darvish was, quite simply, a bust. He made just eight starts and didn’t throw a pitch in a big league game after mid-May. Safe to say that’s not what the front office had in mind when they inked him to a six-year, $126 million deal last offseason.

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But a lingering injury the Cubs seemingly failed to catch completely derailed the right-hander. He repeatedly attempted to pitch through arm pain, only to finally see a diagnosis come to light late in the season. After a clean winter where he will be able to focus on getting back to what once made him a Cy Young runner-up, there’s cause for optimism when it comes to Darvish.

Now, you’re probably wondering why we’re talking about Darvish in a piece dedicated to the Chicago bullpen. But it’s really quite simple. The Darvish injury resulted in Mike Montgomery moving from the pen to the starting rotation, taking away a critical swing man from Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey.

Since we’re sitting here talking about depth in the Cubs pen, it only stands to reason that keeping the rotation healthy at least, in part, helps address that issue. With a long guy like Montgomery in his traditional bullpen role instead of spot-starting, this team’s pen could stay fresher longer in 2019.