Cubs bullpen has been a highwire act far too often this season

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs headed into the week coming off another difficult series loss at the hands of the Brewers. This is the third series loss to Milwaukee this season and is definitely not something we want to see, especially after the promising start to the series.

The Brewers have the fifth-best ERA in baseball at 3.15 and they’re going to find success this season with the strength of their staff. The Cubs need their bullpen to step up if they want to give their inconsistent offense a chance in close games.

Sunday was a prime example of why this team needs the bullpen to keep things together. We watched a great pitching matchup between Jake Arrieta and Brandon Woodruff, only to be overshadowed by a five-spot in the top of the ninth to put the game and series out of reach for the Cubs.

The bullpen has a 3.86 ERA so far this season, the tenth-lowest in baseball. Respectable numbers, but not good enough with the inconsistency of this offense. The most important stat to look at is this team’s ERA is 6.97 when the offense scores between zero and two runs, the highest in any scenario. It’s also worth noting this team is 0-6 in such instances.

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The team’s best ERA is when the offense scores six or more runs, sitting at 3.00. Pitching with no pressure is one thing. But the arms need to show up when the run support isn’t there, too.

It’s also important to show that the Cubs have six relievers that have thrown over eight innings so far this year. Out of those six, three have an ERA over 4.00. David Ross needs more reliable arms out there – period.

Cubs need more quality depth in the pen

The pen may look decent on paper but there is way too much inconsistency for them to truly be effective. I am not sold on this group and we need to see a lot more from them if there is any hope for this season.

My favorite stat to look at is the team’s bullpen ERA without Craig Kimbrel. This number would be 4.32, good for 20th in baseball. This truly demonstrates the struggles this group has had so far.

As we progress into this season, it will be crucial that arms like Pedro Strop, Brad Wieck and Kyle Ryan get more work and make the most of their opportunities. It’s beating a dead horse at this point saying that the pieces are there and we just need to see the results.

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It’s been hard to trust the arms that have come into these games late and the hope is that it will be built as the season rolls on. At the end of the day, it can’t just be Kimbrel locking down games – the supporting cast has  to step up.