Chicago Cubs: Is it too early to worry about the 2020 bullpen?

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Will Kintzler bounce back in 2019?

Nothing like knowing you’re not really wanted. After the Cubs declined Brandon Kintzler’s $10 million team option, he exercised his $5 million player option for 2019.

Kintzler came to the Cubs from the Washington Nationals in a deadline day deal for minor leaguer Jhon Romero. He had been pitching reasonably well for the Nationals (3.59 ERA). But for the Cubs Kintzler was a disaster (7.00 ERA in 18 innings).

Even the best version of Kintzler doesn’t strikeout many batters. In 2018 he had just 43 in 60 2/3 combined innings. In 2017 he had even fewer strikeouts (39) in more innings (71 1/3 innings).

The best hope for the sinkerballer is he follows the pattern established by Justin Wilson in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, Wilson pitched poorly for the Cubs after a midseason trade (5.09 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with 19 walks). Last year, though, he was one of the best parts of the Cubs bullpen (3.46 ERA in 54 2/3 innings with just 33 walks).

Kintzler may have had some trouble adjusting after being traded to the Cubs. A recent report suggest both the Cubs and Kintzler are trying to find a way to work better together.

I think the Kintzler trade was a mistake. The Nationals offloaded a pitcher on the Cubs who doesn’t strike out batters. At his best, Kintzler depends on not walking anyone while getting weak contact and ground balls – a recipe he failed to follow in Chicago.

Whatever these guys have left, this is their chance to show it. Given their age, there’s little chance they’re back in a Cubs uniform in 2020.

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