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Chicago Cubs: Bullpen was outstanding during recent winning streak

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs have come out of nowhere and gotten hot with a month to go in the season, winning seventh straight games prior to dropping a 4-3 decision to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. The offense, namely Frank Schwindel, has gotten a lot of credit (and rightfully so) for their heroics, but there’s another aspect of the team that deserves a lot of credit for the winning streak.

Don’t look now, but the bullpen has been on fire. During the seven-game winning streak, Cubs relievers tossed a total of 35 innings and allowed just two earned runs. Let me repeat that: 35 innings pitched and just two earned runs allowed over that seven-game span.

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To David Ross – and acting manager Andy Green – this has to be the most pleasant of surprises. Since all seven games have been relatively close, and many of them decided late, great relief pitching has been critical to the team’s recent success. Like with the offense, I’m sure a lot of fans are asking: Who are these guys?

Earlier this season, when the team was winning and it appeared that they might be a contender, Ross could rely on the three-headed monster of Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel to get the key late inning outs. However, all three have since been traded, giving a lot of new arms an opportunity to prove themselves. It’s been a bumpy ride, but give this group, along with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, credit for getting a lot out of these arms lately.

Among those who have had success are Codi Heuer, who came over from the White Sox in the Kimbrel trade. Heuer pitched on Monday and has allowed just two earned runs in 18 innings with the Cubs. Scott Effross also pitched two key scoreless innings on Monday, while the veteran Adam Morgan notched the save, including getting pinch-hitter Joey Votto out to end the game.

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Let’s also give credit to Adbert Alzolay, who has been moved to the bullpen and pitched a four-inning save on September 1 against Minnesota, along with 1 2/3 scoreless innings on September 5 against Pittsburgh. Rowan Wick, one of the few holdovers from previous seasons, has also done well overall, and it looks like he’ll get some save opportunities down the stretch.

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These are just some of the names that have been getting the job done lately. Usually, bullpens only get attention when they blow games, but let’s give them some kudos for making the most of their opportunities lately. Hopefully, they’ll be able to build on this momentum moving forward and give the Cubs some hope for a good bullpen again in 2022.