Chicago Cubs: The positives and negatives of 2019

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: The biggest letdown on the season

Starting with the negatives, there is no more significant negative than the Cubs’ bullpen production or lack thereof. The Cubs had a top ten bullpen in 2018, finishing with a collective ERA of 3.35 and a 4.9 WAR. They allowed just 0.78 HR/9 as well.

This season, Chicago saw a significant regression with the pen. They dropped to 20th overall out of 30 major league teams, seeing an increased ERA of 3.98, a 4.54 FIP, and a 4.50 xFIP. Both of those numbers were up from the previous year.

An immense impact of their bullpen was easily Pedro Strop and his drop in numbers. Strop struggled to stay healthy throughout the year, seeing action in just 50 games. It was his lowest number since 2011 when he first broke into the league.

Strop’s ERA rose to a disastrous 4.97 ERA, a jump from 2.26 in 2018. It was the highest ERA of his career. Regarding FIP and xFIP, Strop finished with a 4.53 and 4.19, respectively. The positive of Strop’s 2019 season was his increased strikeout rate. Disappointingly, his walk rate also improved quite a bit. Strop is set to be a free agent this offseason, and at 34 years of age, it is anyone’s guess if the Cubs will bring him back.

The other big disappointment late in the season was the lack of production from Craig Kimbrel. When Chicago signed Kimbrel to a 3-year/$45 million deal, fans figured this was the big break they were expecting. That would not, however, be the case as Kimbrel pitched to a 6.53 ERA over 23 games and failed to stay completely healthy. Kimbrel did record a 31.3 percent strikeout rate. The outrageous 12.5 percent walk rate, however, did him no favors. Fans hope he can bounce back in 2020.

Lastly was Carl Edwards Jr., who finished with a 5.87 ERA before his trade to the San Diego Padres. Edwards was another guy who found great success over multiple seasons. However, he could not stay healthy and lost his groove, which ultimately hurt the Cubs.