Cubs: Putting stress on the bullpen will cost this team games
By Mia Perlman
There is no denying the Chicago Cubs have been struggling. Sure, it might be early in the season, but the team is 6-9 and have not won a series since their season-opening set against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In their most recent series over the weekend, Chicago lost two of three to the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. Looking at these three games and the losses that came before them, the Cubs have many issues they need to address.
One of the biggest issues facing the team is starting pitching. Take the series against the Braves, for example. Those who started last weekend, Zach Davies, Trevor Williams, and Kyle Hendricks, combined for a total of 13 innings pitched, allowing 18 hits, 12 earned runs, and striking out only seven. Davies pitched four innings and gave up four runs on Friday. On Saturday, Williams pitched five innings giving up one run, and Hendricks threw four innings and allowed seven runs on Sunday in one of the worst starts of his career.
Out of those three starters, Williams had the best start. However, his pitch count rose too high too quickly, leading to his exit from the game. Yes, he had a decent outing, but what would have made it better is a longer start. Since starting pitching left the games quickly, weight was left on the bullpen to pull through and pitch more innings than relievers typically throw.
Putting that much stress on the bullpen will not win games, as seen this weekend, but the hope is starting pitching gets back in their groove to prevent situations like this in the future.
Putting too much stress on the Chicago Cubs bullpen will not win games
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Throughout the weekend, the Chicago Cubs bullpen did not exactly help the team’s deficits. It should be noted that Brandon Workman and Dan Winkler were cleared to rejoin the team after being on the COVID-19 injured list. Neither of them contracted COVID, and the corresponding move to this was sending Justin Steele and Pedro Strop to the alternative site.
While Strop and Steele had successful outings during their time in the bigs, there must be a reason the team made this move, and they will likely reappear with the team sooner rather than later. Either way, the Cubs can adjust the bullpen group as the season progresses, which is the strategy that has been in place for a while now.
Former starter Alec Mills has been adjusting to the bullpen. He combined with reliever Ryan Tepera who was coming off a three-game suspension, loading the bases after appearing with no outs in the sixth inning. Both relievers faltered, and this was yet another six-run inning for Atlanta in that game. Since starting is what Mills knows best, he could bring the team success to the rotation should shortcomings linger.
Right now, the current bright spot in the bullpen is Craig Kimbrel. Thankfully, the closer is returning to his old self. This season, Kimbrel appeared in six games, pitching seven innings with eleven strikeouts and three saves. Yes, Kimbrel is looking good and heading in the right direction, but he is not the only reliever or pitcher for that matter on the team.
Chicago’s starting pitching will need to shape up looking forward because putting too much pressure on the bullpen will not win the team games.