Craig Counsell's decisions in latest Cubs' victory stirs conversations

Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs
Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

Before Wrigley Field went into jubilation for Michael Busch's walk-off home run Tuesday night, fans had their heads in their hands after the Cubs blew another late lead. This time, it was not the bullpen. Clinging to a 1-0 lead in the 8th inning, Craig Counsell kept starter Shōta Imanaga in the game to try to get as many outs as possible. Imanaga, who had thrown seven scoreless innings, gave up a single to Luis Arraez and then a go-ahead homer to Jurickson Profar.

Imanaga then left the game at 102 pitches. The scoreless streak by starting pitchers was broken despite another fantastic outing from Imanaga. Fans then debated, was it right for Counsell to push him another inning? Or should he have gone right to Yency Almonte?

Let's be real, there is little trust in the Cubs bullpen. Just this past week, the Cubs saw a 4-0 lead against the Mets disappear, a 1-0 lead in the 8th inning against the Brewers evaporate and a 0-0 tie in Monday's game turn into a 6-0 deficit after Justin Steele left. Not to mention nearly blowing a 5-0 lead against the Brewers on Saturday as soon as Jameson Taillon came out. Can one really blame Counsell for not trusting his pen when he felt he could have gotten more out of his starter, who is arguably the best starter in baseball right now? His pitch count was high, but not over 100 pitches. If anything it sends a message to the front office that his trust in a close game isn't strong.

Craig Counsell drew a line in the sand with the Cubs' recent bullpen struggles.

To play devil's advocate, Almote has been pretty good lately and it was going back to the top of the order. Taking out Imanaga in that spot would not have been indefensible by any means. It really was not a decision that was 100% right or wrong, it just felt like there was logic behind leaving a rolling starter in to try to get as many outs as possible. Imagine the handwringing if the bullpen blew the lead late again.

There is also the argument to, "meet his decision halfway" so to speak. In other words, agreeing with Counsell to let Imanaga start the 8th, but pull him after the Arraez leadoff single before facing Profar. Though giving his bullpen a dirty inning is also risky, that would not have been an illogical move either.

In the end, the Cubs won the game after tying the game in the 8th inning on a Christopher Morel sac fly followed by the Busch walkoff bomb in the 9th inning. Also, shoutout to Ian Happ for his big catch in the top of the 9th to preserve the tie and help a wild Hector Néris out again. This situation just speaks volumes about where the Cubs are with their bullpen.