Chicago Cubs: End-of-season grades for key players from the 2021 team

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Rowan Wick / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: There was a lot of good that came out of the bullpen

The departed: 

Craig Kimbrel: A+

This was the guy the Cubs were looking for in 2019. Kimbrel absolutely dominated as a Cub, pitching to a 0.49 ERA, 1.10 FIP, 0.709 WHIP, 15.7 K/9, and converted 23 out of 25 saves. His value brought over Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer from the White Sox at the deadline.

Ryan Tepera: A 

The man who accidentally got an MVP vote last year pitched extremely well for the Cubs in 2021. He finished with a 2.91 ERA, 2.80 FIP, 0.785 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 43 1/3innings. He was dealt to the White Sox ahead of the deadline.

Andrew Chafin: A

How could one not love “The Sheriff”? The mustachioed lefty pitched to a 2.06 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 0.839 WHIP and 37 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings. His personality was great and he became a fan favorite. He was dealt to Oakland near the deadline for prospect Greg Deichmann.

Other key relievers: 

Dan Winkler: F

After an overall decent showing in 2020, things feel apart in 2021. He had a stretch where the ERA was great but there was always a lot of traffic when he came on. Walking 30 batters in 39.2 innings will come back to bite you, and eventually it all came crumbling down. He was DFAd with a 5.22 ERA.

Rex Brothers: D

Striking out 75 batters in 53 innings saves him from a failing grade, but the 5.26 ERA and 35 walks certainly don’t help him here.

Codi Heuer: B

Since coming over from the White Sox, Heuer pitched to a 3.14 ERA and 4.36 FIP. There is promise with him, the hope next season is for him to miss more bats as he only struck out 17 in 28 2/3 innings.

Rowan Wick: B-

He was coming back from injury, so it is a bit more difficult to judge his performance as he was getting back into the groove. The stuff looks good, he can miss bats (11.3 K/9) but he will want to get the shaky command back under control in 2022 as he walked 14 in 23 innings of work.

Justin Steele: B-

He showed great promise out of the pen, pitching to a 2.03 ERA and striking out 21 batters in 13.1 innings in relief. He made nine starts and it was a very mixed bag of results, posting a 4.95 ERA and 1.4 WHIP. Steele deserves at least above a C with what he did out of the pen, but we cannot put aside his inconsistent string of starts completely. It was his first year in the majors so he will look to build upon what he has done going forward.

Keegan Thompson: B

A very solid ERA 3.38 and 9.3 K/9 was nice to see from the 26-year-old rookie. Only blemish was the walks being a bit high (31 in 53 1/3 innings) and a 1.5 WHIP.

Adrian Sampson: B+

For a guy who is 29 and has limited MLB experience (41 apperances since 2016), his 2.80 ERA and 1.1 WHIP combined out of the pen and starting was pretty impressive. Nothing overpowering but he got the job done.

Dillon Maples: C-

The ERA was quite good at 2.59, but he issued 25 walks in 31 1/3 innings. It has been the same issue with Maples the past four years, great stuff but no command. Even if he did not get hit much and struck out a lot of guys (11.5 K/9), you cannot give up that many free passes.

Manny Rodriguez: D-

At 24 years old there is some promising stuff with his velocity, but the results were less than desired in 2021. 6.11 ERA, 5.77 FIP, 1.7 WHIP in 17 2/3 innings. Still think he is worth a second look next spring, it was a small sample size and was his first taste of the majors.

Adam Morgan: C


Brad Wieck: Incomplete

Spent most of 2021 out, but once again showed promise in the little time he did play. He is mentioned because he still can be a key guy in the pen if he is healthy and on the mound.

Most other relievers for the Cubs either made less than 20 apperances or were just there for mop-up duty in meaningless games. Not much to evalute there.

Next. Trio of top prospects to the Arizona League. dark

Of the 69 total players to suit up for the Cubs, 37 were mentioned and 34 were given solidified grades. Might seem like a low number, but 30 players participated in less than 20 games and 17 of those did not even break double-digit games played.

In total broken down by letter grade:

  • A: 6
  • B: 10
  • C: 7
  • D: 4
  • F: 7

This does not tell the whole story of the team, considering how this does not break down every single member of the roster. One could look at some of these grades and think they are a bit generious considering where the team finished, but there are many other ways to evalute a performance in context of who the player is that opinions will vary.