Chicago Cubs need to bring back Brandon Kintzler

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Reliever Brandon Kintzler showed his worth in 2019 and could provide a much-needed veteran bullpen presence for the Chicago Cubs next season.

There is no denying the Chicago Cubs bullpen struggled throughout the 2019 season. However, right-hander Brandon Kintzler unexpectedly put up some of the best numbers of his career and went from almost not making the Opening Day roster to being the team’s set-up man. In fact, Kintzler might have been proven himself to be one of – if not the – most reliable arms in the pen.

Chicago acquired Kintzler from the Washington Nationals ahead of the 2018 trade deadline in efforts to strengthen the core of their bullpen. Unfortunately, he was not the acquisition the team had hopes for. The veteran struggled to adapt to pitching with his new club, finishing with a 7.00 ERA with a 2.000 WHIP in 25 appearances. His home run and walk rates both rose drastically and showed that he did nothing to bolster the bullpen.

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After the 2018 season ended, Kintzler admitted that he was off his game, and accredited some of his faults to struggling – both mechanically and mentally. These issues could mess up any pitchers ability to deliver and get the job done.

As a result of his downfall, the Cubs declined his $10 million team option for 2019, but Kintzler opted into his $5 million player option.  At age 34, he attended Spring Training but was not guaranteed to make the team’s Opening Day roster.

Naturally, some would say it was surprising that he made the roster or initially thought that he was wasting space. Nonetheless, Kintzler was given a shot to show off his stuff and that was exactly what he did. The right-hander was able to accustom himself to pitching with the Cubs and throughout his 2019 campaign, the former All-Star was reborn on the mound.

Kintzler started the year on fire, carrying a 1.98 ERA before the All-Star Break. However, this later became a 3.92 ERA which could be attributed to injuries he faced at the end of the season. In August, Kintzler was sidelined with right pec injuries and in September, he was out with left oblique injuries. Despite the injuries he faced, Kintzler still appeared in 62 games, posting a 2.68 ERA – a major improvement from the year prior.

Overall, Kintzler had a successful campaign and pointed to Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy as to why he was able to bounce back and be effective. Looking forward to 2020, Kintzler is a free agent. In the grand scheme of things, it might not seem like the best idea to bring a pitcher of his age back, but I’d caution fans to think again.

Kintzler might have some of what the Cubs are looking for. Not only would he add depth to the pen, but he would also add veteran leadership and reliability. The 35-year-old has also voiced his feelings in favor of staying on the North Side.

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Perhaps most importantly, bringing back Kintzler, especially on a short-term deal, wouldn’t break the bank. With how much he improved from 2018 to 2019, he might have enough in the tank to help the Cubs again in 2020.