Cubs: Where would this team be without its unexpectedly good bullpen?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

At first glance, the Chicago Cubs didn’t look all that great. But with more time, things are looking better and better for the team. In April, the North Siders went 11-15, whereas thus far, in May, they have won 13 out of 20.

Yes, many different reasons have contributed to Chicago’s recent success, but one of the most notable factors is the absolutely untouchable mix of bullpen arms. Consisting of both old and new faces, as well as veterans and young players alike, the team’s bullpen is currently one of the best in the game.

As things currently stand, the bullpen owns a collective 3.02 ERA which is the fourth-lowest in Major League Baseball. They also rank second in total strikeouts with 228 and hold the league’s highest strikeout rate as a unit.

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Even when the team was struggling in April, the bullpen found success and has been consistent. The pen had a slightly lower strikeout rate in April, along with a somewhat higher ERA. Basically, the group has been consistent. Looking at members of the bullpen individually, many different pieces have made up this bullpen.

Each piece of the Cubs bullpen has contributed to the team’s success

Young arms, including Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson, and Dillon Maples, have been stellar. Veterans including Craig Kimbrel and Ryan Tepera have been looking better and better with the season’s progression. Steele, 25, performed well until he fell victim to injury and ended up on the 10-day IL on May 21 with a hamstring sprain. This season, Steele posted a 2.03 ERA in a total of 11 appearances. Thompson has made eight appearances and has not given up any runs.

As for the veterans, closer Craig Kimbrel has continued his turnaround that began last September. Thankfully, this season, Kimbrel is looking very much like his old self. Currently, he holds a 0.95 ERA in 19 games and has nine saves under his belt. If Kimbrel keeps performing this well, he could end up on the trade block, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Right-handed reliever Ryan Tepera struggled in April with a 5.40 ERA. However, throughout 10 appearances in the first few weeks of May, he has allowed a lone run with a 0.87 ERA. Last but not least, a reliever worth noting is Tommy Nance. Though Nance, 30, made his debut recently, he has had a 0.88 WHIP across four appearances and hasn’t allowed a run. Nance is becoming an asset to the bullpen, and if he keeps it up, this group just gets even deeper as we head further into the schedule.

Next. Javier Baez comes with his share of highs, along with the lows. dark

If the pen can keep it up and the bats keep doing what they’ve done lately, maybe, just maybe, the front office will pivot away from a fire sale and instead look to add. It all starts Tuesday night against the struggling Pirates at PNC Park.