Chicago Cubs: Underwood and Hultzen are internal options
A more efficient way for the Chicago Cubs to bolster the bullpen would be to look within to their own farm system. Though they might be overlooked, the farm system has some reasonable relief options, including Duane Underwood Jr., and Danny Hultzen.
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During his time with Triple-A Iowa, Underwood has made 33 appearances (10 starts) with a 5.07 ERA. Granted, those aren’t ideal numbers for a guy vying for a big league roster spot. But more notably, he pitched 81 2/3 innings and accumulated 95 strikeouts. Though he is currently within the farm, Underwood has spent a short amount of time in the majors.
During his time in the big leagues, Underwood made a dozen appearances. In that fairly small body of work, he managed a 4.24 FIP – a number that was hurt, undoubtedly by the 10 hits per nine he allowed. Though the right hander’s numbers aren’t stellar, he is only 25 and has room to improve. If given a chance with the Cubs, he could make the most of it and be a successful reliever.
Hultzen, 29, has performed well during his time with Triple-A Iowa. During his time there, the former first-rounder turned in a sterling 1.26 ERA. Notably, the big left-hander accumulated three saves and 23 strikeouts. During his brief stint with the big league club, Hultzen made six appearances, pitching 3 1/3 innings, giving up 4 hits and striking out five. Hultzen’s Triple-A performance in 2019 makes a case for his possible move to the majors and if brought up, this guy could be a valuable arm.
Whether the Cubs decide to look internally to re-sign their current arms or to the farm, there are many ways that the bullpen could be improved. Building around Kimbrel, the Cubs should evaluate all outlets, including those entering free agency when it comes to kicking things up a notch.