With Rowan Wick sidelined, the Chicago Cubs bullpen will face challenges throughout the regular season and postseason.
There is just one week left of the abbreviated 2020 regular season, and the Chicago Cubs have quite a decent lead in the NL Central. The Cubs have had a great season despite the struggles the bullpen has faced thus far. While the bullpen began to shape up late in the season, another obstacle has appeared on the team’s road to the postseason: the absence of right-hander Rowan Wick for the rest of the regular season, and possibly the postseason.
On Saturday, September 19, the Cubs announced that right-handed reliever Wick was placed on the Injured List with a left oblique strain, as of Thursday, September 17. A corresponding move was made as lefty Andrew Chafin, who was acquired at the trade deadline via trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, was called up to the bigs. Chafin, 30, was previously on the IL with a left finger sprain. The left-hander had an 8.10 ERA before heading to the IL.
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There is no denying that 27-year old Rowan Wick has been one of skipper David Ross’s most trusted late-inning arms this season, along with righty Jeremy Jeffress and veteran Craig Kimbrel. Acquired from the San Diego Padres in 2018 for infielder Jason Vosler, Wick made his Cubs debut on May 23, 2019. Throughout the 2019 season, Wick made a name for himself and ended up being one of the most consistent arms in the bullpen. He finished the 2019 season posting a 2.43 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings pitched.
Fortunately, Wick’s success from 2019 followed him into 2020. So far, Wick has owned a 3.12 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 17 1/3 total innings pitched this season. Not only do Wick’s stats as a Chicago Cub show how valuable he is to this ball club, but they also explain why his absence is problematic for the bullpen. At this stage of the season, the Cubs need to reform the bullpen in the wake of Wick’s absence to ensure success in the postseason.
Odds are, the likes of Craig Kimbrel and Duane Underwood Jr. will see more playing time. As far as other names go, Jeremy Jeffress, Ryan Tepera, and Andrew Chafin could be the answer with Wick sidelined. Who knows, maybe southpaw Jose Quintana will make a return off the Injured List shortly and become a staple for the bullpen.
Whatever the case may be, the Cubs still have time to figure things out in regards to the bullpen with Wick’s absence, and hopefully, the bullpen will keep seeing success throughout the remainder of baseball in 2020.