Can the Chicago Cubs thrive with a dangerously shorthanded bullpen?

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /

Can the Chicago Cubs keep rolling with a closer by committee approach?

So who will close for the Chicago Cubs in the meantime? Not even Maddon knows.

"“It’s wide open. It is the wild, wild west. I’m not going in with any preconceived ideas except: ‘Who are our guys for tonight?’ And then I’ve got to build out the plan from that pregame and then game in progress, make the adjustments.”"

Nothing makes you feel warm and fuzzy like your skipper labeling your pen as the ‘wild, wild west’, right? Still, there have been plenty of pleasant surprises out there so far in 2019. Maybe, just maybe there’s enough depth there to help the team weather the storm – at least in the short-term.

Veteran Brandon Kintzler, who could safely be labeled a complete bust after the team acquired him last summer, has bounced back nicely. Chicago declined his $10 million option for 2019, only to have the right-hander utilize his $5 million player option. So far, he’s been worth every penny, making 15 appearances to the tune of a bullpen-best 2.16 ERA.

One of the new faces, Brad Brach, has also been effective, although there’s more than a little cause for concern given his 16:17 strikeout-to-walk ratio through his first 15 innings of work. He’ll have to get that under control before Maddon can consider him as a legitimate late-inning answer in Strop’s absence.

The rest of the group have been solid, but far from exciting. Kyle Ryan, Tim Collins, Allen Webster and Steve Cishek have gotten the job done more often than not, but I wouldn’t consider any of them to be a legitimate ninth-inning option at this point. They’re your bridge guys – not your stopper.