After having one of the worst bullpens in the league at the end of the first month of the season, the Cubs decided some moves had to be made. Jose Veras is out. Pedro Strop and James Russell have had their problems. As a result, manager Rick Renteria has shuffled the bullpen (though he won’t say officially that he did). Wesley Wright, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez, and Hector Rondon have taken over.
“I don’t want to define them as roles, yet I just want to define them as guys being used in certain situations to kind of help us finish a ballgame,” Renteria said.
He can call it whatever he wants. It is working (so far).
The Cubs’ bullpen currently owns a 14-inning scoreless streak. The relievers teamed up to hold the Cincinnati Reds scoreless over 3 1/3 innings, helping preserve a close one-run lead until the offense scored four runs in the ninth to win 9-4.
Ramirez has been sparkling since his call-up. He faced the heart of the Reds’ batting order in the eighth and retiring them out in order. That’s after making his major league debut last Friday against the hot Milwaukee Brewers and retiring their middle of the order, including his first major league strikeout against Ryan Braun.
“I was ready for it,” Ramirez said facing the pressure. “Kind of similar to that first time out. You try not to put too much pressure on yourself, but you know you need to go out there and get your job done so that’s what I was focusing on.”
Ramirez has been doing his thing blowing hitters with a 96 mph, and fooling them with a nasty 87 mph slider.
In 13 1/3 innings so far, Grimm and Ramirez have combined for a win and an ERA of 0.67. They both became Cubs last season in the Matt Garza trade. It is good to see that the trade is already paying some dividends.
It is also good to see the young and good arms the Cubs have, at both the major and minor league level. The team still isn’t where fans would like, but they can at least see some hope on the horizon.