Chicago Cubs: Finally healthy, Rowan Wick is once again dominating
By Erik Mauro
The Chicago Cubs spent much of the 2021 season without reliever Rowan Wick. The right-hander broke out in a big way back in 2019, his first season with the team, and when he’s been healthy, he’s been a key piece of the bullpen. So, needless to say, his absence this year was notable.
Since returning from the oblique injury that cost him a huge chunk of the year, Wick has tallied 16 2/3 innings, striking out 22 hitters with a 2.16 ERA and four saves. He has taken the closer role and ran with it, following the deadline fire sale that saw Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel dealt. His 11.88 K/9 is a career high and having a pitcher that misses bats is a nice change of pace for a Cubs pitching staff that has relied on inducing soft contact quite a bit.
Bullpens are a major piece of the puzzle in today’s game. Codi Heuer, Rowan Wick and Manny Rodriguez make up a solid back-end mix moving forward. Brad Wieck, who is out due to an irregular heartbeat, had yet to allow a run this year and, should he return, could also play a key role in 2022.
Meanwhile, Wick hasn’t given up a run in his last five outings and has struck out 12 hitters, while only walking two. This is what the Cubs expected from him and he is delivering. In 64 career appearances with the Cubs, Wick has a 2.54 ERA across 67 1/3 innings, with 77 strikeouts and 28 walks with a 2.53 FIP. There is no luck involved here and what you see is what you get with “RoWick,” as Jon Sciambi has affectionately referred to him as.
Rowan Wick’s strong return is huge for future of the Chicago Cubs
The fact that Wick has rebounded in such strong fashion is great to see given the fact he got shut down last year with an injury and battled that oblique issue for much of this season. He clearly doesn’t look like his stuff has suffered, either, with his fastball sitting 94-96 and his signature sharp biting breaking ball.
Given the 2021 season is a loss as far as the standings go, Wick has enjoyed the ability to come out and pitch with little to no pressure. Sure, it would have been nice to have him pitch in a pennant race, but he’s already got a couple years under his belt on that front. It’s fine to let Wick pitch with no pressure as he continues to build back up. Looking ahead to next season and beyond, health will be key – this guy has top-tier stuff and could be an anchor in the bullpen.
Imagine the scenario in 2023, where Cubs’ 2021 first-round pick Jordan Wicks starts a game, hands the ball to Codi Heuer or Brad Wieck and Wick slams the door in the ninth. Chicago has plenty of pieces in the pen with potential to make an impact on the next contending team on the North Side. Now, it’s about doing what the organization failed to do with the last core: supplementing the weak spots on the roster.