Chicago Cubs: Ranking this year’s most valuable pitchers

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Wick emerges as a late-inning force down the stretch

Late in the year, a lot of people overlooked the success of the Chicago Cubs bullpen as Craig Kimbrel blew several critical saves that put the nail in the proverbial coffin.

If you look at the big picture, the pen performed pretty well. Cubs relievers allowed the fourth-fewest runs per game (4.43) among National League ball clubs and ranked fourth in the NL with a 4.10 earned run average. But when you break it down to high-leverage spots, things go sideways pretty quickly.

The Cubs turned in the sixth-lowest save percentage in the league. Kimbrel, as noted many, many times, struggled to find any sort of consistent rhythm after joining the team mid-season and left plenty to be desired. That being said, one of his bullpen mates, Rowan Wick, looked like a legitimate long-term asset.

Wick ranked second among Cubs relievers with a 0.7 WAR, according to Fangraphs. He struck out 25 percent of opposing hitters, blending his overpowering fastball with some devastating breaking pitches. Perhaps what stood out most, though, is the fact that he did not allow a home run in 31 appearances this season.

Under control for the better part of the next decade, Wick may very well be a stabilizing force for the next manager. He has a lot to learn, to be sure. But with the season on the line, this kid stepped up and delivered when it mattered – something a lot of Cubs hurlers can’t say.