The Chicago Cubs’ bullpen is proving to be as atrocious as last season, if not worse. As the team hopefully progresses towards their bright future with players like Kris Bryant and Javier Baez coming to the main roster, the inability of the bullpen to hold large leads will be a problem unless the team decides to put a major focus on improving that aspect of the team.
In today’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Travis Wood left the game after 6+ innings giving up no runs and leaving a runner on second base. In came Brian Schlitter, who immediately gave up a home run to Travis Snyder. Following him was James Russell, who took over with a 4-2 lead, and two runners on. Russell’s first pitch was a home run by Pedro Alvarez, which was the eventual game-winning hit in a 5-4 Cubs loss.
Even since last year, when Carlos Marmol was blowing saves from opening week until he was traded, the Cubs’ bullpen has been the epitome of atrocious. Even games like today, where the team had a four-run lead, it’s not safe to hand the ball over to your bullpen. Manager Rick Renteria can’t be considering leaving starting pitchers on the mound for too long, especially with no previous managerial experience. Renteria kept Wood in the game for over 100 pitches today, and was still hesitant to start Schlitter warming up in the bullpen.
While players like Bryant and Baez provide hope for the future, if the bullpen can’t hold the leads that these offensive weapons give them, the future of the Cubs may not be as bright as we hope.