Chicago Cubs bullpen can be dominant without Brandon Morrow

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: We’ll never know what might have been

At best, Morrow would have given manager Joe Maddon another dominant late-game bullpen option. This is an unfair expectation, however, considering how much time the right-hander has missed over the last year-plus.

Realistically, Morrow would’ve been eased back into big league action, meaning he’d pitch as a middle reliever (the fifth, sixth and possibly seventh inning). There’s a chance he could’ve worked his way up to a setup man role, especially due to the mercurial behavior of the Cubs bullpen.

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We’ll never know how Morrow may have helped the 2019 Cubs. His return surely could’ve benefited the team, but the Cubs shutting him down is by no means a death sentence for the bullpen.

The Cubs bullpen woes are well-known at this point in the season; their 23 blown saves trail just the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres (24 each) for No. 1 in all of baseball.

Despite woes, the bullpen is solid

Despite that being the case — in addition to Morrow being shut down — the Cubs bullpen still can be on of baseball’s best down the stretch.

Skeptics will label such a notion as far too optimistic, but the truth of the matter is that at this moment, the Cubs bullpen is at full strength. Does this mean it has zero issues? No, of course not.

Kimbrel is still rounding into shape; Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler just returned from the injured list, while Pedro Strop has caused one to hold their breath far too often this season.

At the same time, Kimbrel’s velocity continues to go upward and he’s delivered back-to-back 1-2-3 saves. Cishek and Kintzler’s recent trips to the injured list may have been blessings in disguise, considering they are two of the Cubs most frequently used relievers.