There will likely be multiple additions to the Cubs bullpen mix once the lockout ends and free agency resumes, but right now, it’s pretty wide open – in the sense there are very few proven commodities among the relievers David Ross will have at his disposal in 2022.
Knowing as much, Chicago’s move to keep adding veteran depth in that area makes perfect sense. Lost in the CBA drama early in the week was the Cubs’ signing of former Kansas City reliever and sinkerballer Kevin McCarthy to a minor league deal.
McCarthy, who just turned 30 in late February, is several years removed from his best seasons in the Royals bullpen – and is coming off a disastrous 2021 he split between the White Sox and Red Sox organizations at the Triple-A level. He made 35 appearances, working to a 7.12 ERA and 1.651 WHIP while allowing nearly 14 hits per nine.
Needless to say, that’s not going to get the job done at either the Triple-A or big league level.
In recent years, he’s lot a ton of velocity – going from someone who could sit in that 94-95 MPH range to not even averaging 90 on his heater in 2020, his last season at the big league level. That’s obviously concerning, especially when you consider his complete inability to miss bats last year.
If there’s one thing he has always done well though, it’s keep the ball on the ground. He doesn’t walk too many guys, either. But it’ll take a pretty drastic turnaround for him to factor into the Cubs’ bullpen plans this year, although Chicago has been pretty solid at finding diamonds in the rough on the reliever market in recent years.
Chicago Cubs: Taking a quick look at the depth chart out in the bullpen
Right now, this team doesn’t even know who will close games. You’d think that Rowan Wick is probably a top contender, with guys like Codi Heuer or Manny Rodriguez potentially factoring into the equation. Brad Wieck, returning from a second heart procedure, will look to pick up where he left off in 2021 when he tossed 17 scoreless frames before getting shut down.
From there, it’s really anybody’s guess. We know that prior to the lockout, Jed Hoyer had shifted his focus away from the rotation and onto the bullpen – so moves are going to happen once business resumes. That’s probably a good thing, too, because right now this team is far too dependent on young arms.
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I love young arms and developing some weapons that come from within is important, but you need some reliable commodities in the mix, too – and right now, the Cubs seem to lack them.