Chicago Cubs: Experience will be key for next year’s team
As things currently stand, the Cubs will lose the following players at season’s end (barring those individuals choosing to re-sign with the team this winter or some other move):
- Pedro Strop, Brandon Kintzler, Cole Hamels (which creates a spot in the rotation that will need to be addressed) and Steve Cishek – four absolutely crucial members of this year’s pitching staff.
The following players have team options heading into 2020:
- David Phelps, Derek Holland, Jose Quintana, Brandon Morrow, Tony Barnette and Kendall Graveman. Given his consistency, I’d be shocked if Chicago didn’t pick up Quintana’s option. They’ll absolutely decline Morrow’s and the other four are anybody’s guess at this point and may very well be determined in the season’s final six weeks.
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Obviously, the biggest bullpen losses come in the form of Strop, Kintzler and Cishek – arguably the three most prominent members of Joe Maddon‘s circle of trust. Strop has fallen out of favor a bit this year given his struggles and waning velocity – but he’s anchored the pen for the better part of a decade.
Cishek is undoubtedly Maddon’s go-to guy in pretty much any tough spot. He relies on this guy to get the big outs in the high-pressure moments. Given what he’s done since coming to Chicago last year (2.76 ERA/1.094 WHIP in 134 appearances), he’ll be a hot commodity on the market this winter.
Meanwhile, Kintzler, who forced his way onto the club by exercising his player option for 2019 after the Cubs declined their team option on him, is a redemption story. After a brutal stretch late last season after joining the team midseason, he’s been a steady hand in the mix for Maddon, working to a 2.51 ERA this year.
As you can see, there are a lot of holes in this pen heading into next year. But the young arms may be ready to carry the load sooner than you may think.