Chicago Cubs fans are wrong to have this Craig Counsell hot take after Opening Day

Cubs fans are already drawing comparisons to David Ross.

Mar 31, 2024; Arlington, Texas, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Drew Smyly (11) pitches in relief
Mar 31, 2024; Arlington, Texas, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Drew Smyly (11) pitches in relief / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Cubs fans are going to need to recalibrate how they view bullpen decisions in the first season with Craig Counsell as the team's manager.

It was a less than ideal start to the season for the Cubs as they fell to the Texas Rangers in extra innings but the more concerning news was the loss of starting pitcher Justin Steele.

Steele left the game in the fifth injury with a hamstring injury but what needs to be mentioned is the situation.

The game was tied at 1 with a runner on second and two outs. With the Rangers having their two best hitters up, Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, it was a high-leverage situation. Rather than stick to the notion of a middle reliever such as Jose Cuas or a swing-reliever in Dew Smyly in that spot, Counsell elected to go with one of his high-leverage relief pitchers in Julian Merryweather.

It worked.

Merryweather induced a ground ball to Seager after walking Semien, escaping the high-leverage situation unscathed.

Struggles from Yency Almonte in the sixth inning forced the Cubs into another high-leverage situation where Mark Leiter Jr entered and halted the Rangers' momentum by pitching 1.2 perfect innings while striking out 3.

Hector Neris pitched a scoreless eighth inning and it paved the way for the Cubs to be in a position to win the game in the bottom of the ninth after some luck in the top half.

The bullpen decisions allowed for Adbert Alzolay to be on the mound with a chance to secure three outs in order to save the victory for the Cubs. Unfortunately, Alzolay allowed a game-tying home run to Travis Jankowski that forced the game to go into extras.

Chicago Cubs fans should have no issue with Craig Counsell's bullpen management.

In extra innings, Counsell turned to Smyly, and the decision backfired as the veteran took the loss.

On a very broad scope, yes, the Cubs likely do not want Smyly on the mound in a high-leverage situation. But that lacks the context of how the game played out. Counsell managed the bullpen perfectly until that point and had the team three outs away from victory.

Sure, Counsell could have elected for Cuas or Luke Little in the tenth inning but it would have been just as a risk as it was to turn to Smyly, who thrived as a relief pitcher last season.

The only thing Cubs fans should be upset about after Opening Day is that "Captain Variance" made a cameo in the first game of the season, not Counsell's bullpen management.

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