Chicago Cubs: Lots of W flags will fly when this guy pitches
What do teams who are successful in the second half need? Well, a good bullpen is probably pretty high up there on the priority list. A lights-out closer also might be a necessity. When healthy and right, that’s a check and another check. With the addition of Craig Kimbrel to an oft-maligned (in the early part of the season) but mostly solid bullpen? The Cubs are continuing to adjust to life with an actual, bona fide closer.
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The good news is that it’s no longer closer-by-committee, and Maddon shouldn’t have to pitch Steve Cishek every day. If Carl Edwards Jr. can be productive, Pedro Strop can get back on track (is he still nursing a bit of something and just trying to fight through it?). If Brandon Kintzler can continue being good, we may not even have to see Brad Brach very often!
Add the possibility of Brandon Morrow down the stretch (don’t hold your breath, but what a late-season “pick-up” that would be if he’s right). As well as Adbert Alzolay, Dillon Maples, and even an Alec Mills? Maddon will have lots of options to keep everyone fresh and ready to go.
Not only will the current members of the pen continue to help the Cubs win games, but you also have to figure that at least one move will be made before the end of the month to add a lefty in the pen. Someone like Will Smith or maybe a starter the Cubs could use in an unorthodox manner like Mike Minor or Matthew Boyd.
While the 2019 season has seemed a bit uneven at times, with highs and lows already hit, expect this club to continue doing what it always does under Joe Maddon in the second half–win. And win. And win some more — hopefully all the way to an NL Central crown and maybe even a pennant.
With all this winning the Cubs should continue to do in the second half this season, there’s one thing I didn’t mention that could be very interesting in the second half. A possible extension for Joe Maddon should the Chicago Cubs pull away from their Central Division rivals and look like the team we all expect them to be. Here’s hoping for that .653 winning percentage to continue, a trip to the playoffs, and another few years of Joe.