Chicago Cubs: Team going with quantity in building the bullpen
Chicago Cubs: This year’s Rowan Wick or Kyle Ryan?
To those who think it isn’t possible that any of these additions could help the Cubs in 2020, keep in mind the cases of Rowan Wick and Kyle Ryan. Wick came into 2018 with just 8 1/3 career innings of work, with the San Diego Padres, in which he gave up six earned runs. Yet the right-hander was a surprise find for the Cubs in 2019, posting a 2.43 ERA in 31 games. Wick earned Joe Maddon‘s trust down the stretch.
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Then there’s Ryan, who didn’t even pitch in the majors in 2018. The southpaw spent four seasons in Detroit, from 2014 to 2017, and was up and down, having his best season in 2016 when he posted a 3.07 ERA in 56 games.
Yet he had last allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings with the Tigers in 2017. The Cubs turned him into an effective reliever in 2019, as he posted a 1.1 WAR out of the bullpen.
The Cubs don’t have to have all their additions work out for them to have a decent bullpen, but they will have to get a few surprises both from these additions and internally.
If they can get maybe two or three of the new additions to have a good spring, combined with Ryan, Wick, Tyler Chatwood, and two or three other guys internally (such as Brad Wieck, Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay, Duane Underwood, Jr., Dillon Maples, or James Norwood) to have good springs, David Ross could have some good options in the late innings to get to closer Craig Kimbrel.
Again, I understand that most Chicago Cubs fans wish the team would make some bigger additions for 2020, and I still have a lot of concerns about the bullpen, as I’m not fully confident that this strategy will work. Yet we can’t claim that the front office has done absolutely nothing when it comes to building a bullpen, either. Let’s hope the Cubs strike gold with at least a few of these new arms this year.