Chicago Cubs: Next year’s bullpen could look wildly different

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: So what in-house options does the team have?

Fear not. At long last, we’re beginning to see some of the team’s pitching prospects work their way to the big leagues. And a few of these arms may very well end up getting a chance to earn roles in the Cubs bullpen come next spring in Arizona.

Leading the charge is right-hander Rowan Wick, who’s turned in a 2.25 FIP and 10.1 K/9 in 17 appearances this year. This kid’s stuff is absolutely filthy – and the Cubs control him through the 2024 campaign. It’s not out of the question to see him compete for the setup role with Strop likely on his way out of town.

Left-hander Kyle Ryan has also emerged as a critical piece of the puzzle. He’s recovered from a bit of a rocky start to the tune of a 3.23 FIP in 56 appearances, holding left-handed hitters to a minuscule .263 on-base percentage this year.

Tyler Chatwood could be huge, as well. You could envision him taking Hamels’ potentially vacated spot in the rotation – or he could empty the tank in a late-inning spot as a shutdown weapon bridging the gap to Kimbrel. Either way, there’s a lot to like after his bounce-back campaign.

But these are the primary pieces – at least ones with substantial experience under their belt. For the next wave, you’re looking at Triple-A Iowa with the likes of Duane Underwood Jr., Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay and Dillon Maples.

None of these guys are in the position where you’d want to bank on them heading into 2020 – but there’s plenty of talent in this group. Maples is all about potential – but is yet to put it together for an extended period of time. Mills might be a long man – and the jury is still out on Underwood and Alzolay, two of the team’s most highly regarded prospects.

Next. It's time to trust Chatwood in critical spots. dark

The pieces are in place – but I’d anticipate Epstein and Jed Hoyer being quite active this offseason, looking to add impact arms to shore up the guys returning. Either way, there will be new faces coming out from the left-field bullpen next season answering the call from the Cubs dugout.