Chicago Cubs bullpen proves it’s human in late-inning stutter

(Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

Baseball is a constant roller coaster ride. On Thursday, the Chicago Cubs bullpen played an integral role in closing out the 17th no-hitter in franchise history. But the very next day, the team’s relievers, who have been so good this season, faltered late in a 6-2 loss at Dodger Stadium.

Jake Arrieta held his own against the Los Angeles offense, going five frames and allowing just a pair of tallies. That’s about as good as it gets for the 35-year-old right-hander these days, who carries an unsightly 5.32 ERA on the season.

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"“I think all the starts are big, I don’t put more importance on one than the other. I think he threw the ball pretty well,” Cubs skipper David Ross told after the game. “The breaking stuff looked really good. He got beat on a couple of changeups, and just some misfires.”"

The Dodgers broke this one open late via a pair of big flies – one coming in the eighth off Ryan Tepera, who tossed a scoreless frame the night prior in the no-no – and another coming later in the frame against right-hander Tommy Nance. The showing from the pen really stood out given they’ve been near-untouchable up to this point.

Even after Friday’s loss, Chicago’s bullpen boasts the best ERA (2.70) and opponent batting average (.187) in all of baseball. Really, I chalk it up to one of those things that’s bound to happen over the course of 162 games.

Chicago Cubs: Taking a closer look at the offensive performance

Kris Bryant looks like he’s getting back on track after a brutal stretch here in June, evidenced by his first-inning solo shot off Tony Gonsolin. The homer was Bryant’s 15th on the year – which ranks second on the Cubs, trailing only shortstop Javier Baez.

Joc Pederson accounted for the team’s other tally via a sacrifice fly in the seventh, which tied the game up at 2-2. But, again, from there, things headed south in a hurry for Chicago, who will look to get back to their winning ways on Saturday night in Chavez Ravine.

It’s tough to win games when you go hitless (0-for-7) with men in scoring position – and that’s exactly what the Cubs did in this one. It continues the trend of a lack of manufacturing offense, an issue that’s plagued this group for years. On the bright side, Jason Heyward collected a pair of hits which, hopefully, means he’s starting to figure some things out. The veteran outfielder is hitting just .188 this year.

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As a team, the Cubs struck out 14 times, drawing four walks – which, when you put it side-by-side with what the Dodgers managed (six strikeouts, five walks) really paints a picture of this team’s offense and its inherent issues.