Cubs: The ninth belong to Craig Kimbrel – at least for now
This is the easiest spot in the bullpen to fill. Kimbrel’s only competition to the job, Jeremy Jeffress, is gone now after signing a minor league deal in Washington. Kimbrel seemed to regain his old self in the second half of the Covid shortened 2020 season and is being paid big money to be the Chicago Cubs closer.
Other contenders: None
Seventh and eighth-inning setup men: Jason Adam and Rowan Wick
Two of the guys with some of the nastier stuff in the bullpen, it makes sense for both Adam and Wick to get some of the higher leverage work. Both players are strikeout artists, which is exactly what you want from your late-inning relievers.
Wick and Adam both had SO/9’s in the double digits so they’re more than capable of getting huge punchouts in big spots. Each gives opposing batters different looks as Adam dominates batters with a lively, overpowering fastball, while Wick relies more on his curveball.
The Cubs have other pitchers who match the late-inning profile, and there is a bit of a mystery surrounding Rowan Wick’s health as of now. If Wick or Adam can’t go, Pedro Strop was the Cubs’ dominant eighth inning man for years and Dillon Maples can strike people out, but neither seems slated to make the Opening Day roster right now.
Other contenders: Pedro Strop, Dillon Maples, Ryan Tepera