3 reasons the Chicago Cubs are World Series contenders
Chicago Cubs: Lots of depth and a fluid bullpen situation
Quality depth was another question mark for the Cubs heading into the season. But David Ross has done a tremendous job of mixing and matching his personnel.
Ian Happ’s emergence as the everyday center fielder has allowed Ross to platoon guys like Jason Kipnis and David Bote to perfection.
Kipnis has been a phenomenal pickup, entering Tuesday’s contest with a 1.382 OPS before going 1-for-3 with a double and a walk against the Indians. He has been able to spot Nico Hoerner at second base, and might also play some outfield.
Victor Caratini was 0-fer on Tuesday, but had started to get things going in the last few games. David Bote can also play second or the hot corner, and is another guy who offers lineup flexibility.
Believe it or not, the depth also extends to the bullpen.
Remember, the Cubs will likely deploy a four-man rotation come October. This means guys like Quintana and either of Mills or Chatwood can be used out of the bullpen for the playoffs.
That is a serious boon for Ross, particularly if the rotation guys continue to do their job and eat innings.
Jeremy Jeffress has a 0.17 WHIP despite a decline in velocity. Rowan Wick looks like the new go-to option in the closing role.
Moreover, right-hander Colin Rea looked very impressive on Tuesday, throwing a pair of scoreless innings and routinely touching 96 mph with the fastball.
The Cubs are unlikely to need a ton of relievers in the postseason. But if guys like Rea can be effective and the likes of Mills, Chatwood or Quintana become available, Ross could suddenly find himself with a crop of more reliable arms. Plus, the Cubs could make a move for a key arm at the August trade deadline.
Just imagine if Craig Kimbrel can rebound in a new role.