As the Chicago Cubs put together their pitching staff for 2020, there are some internal options worth looking at. Could these pitchers contribute next year?
I wrote previously that building a bullpen will be a challenge this offseason for the Chicago Cubs. Given what we’ve heard from the front office since the season ended so far, it sounds like the team will not be spending much in free agency as it prepares for 2020.
Regardless, the team will have to address the bullpen this offseason. Despite the bad press the bullpen received throughout the year, it was actually a strength overall in 2019, as the team’s 3.98 relief ERA was good for eighth in Major League Baseball. Yet the bullpen is a huge question mark this offseason because four of the most important pieces from 2019 are free agents: Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler, and David Phelps. Then there’s Craig Kimbrel, who will be coming back, yet we don’t know what to expect from him since he was so bad after signing a free agent deal during the season.
It’s out of the question that the Cubs will be able to sign all four of their free agents this winter, and it’s hard to envision the team finding enough options externally to fill that gap. Therefore, new manager David Ross will have to look internally to fill out his pitching ranks.
Then there’s the fifth starter’s spot, which is vacant because the club declined to make Cole Hamels a qualifying offer. Again, it’s hard to envision the Cubs spending a lot on a free agent starting pitcher this offseason.
Do the Cubs have enough internal options to put together a decent bullpen and/or to find a fifth starter? Here, we look at three potential options and examine whether they’d be ready to contribute in 2020.