Chicago Cubs: Previewing the 2016 season

Mar 29, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo against the Oakland Athletics during a spring training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo against the Oakland Athletics during a spring training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

How strong is this bullpen?

The Chicago Cubs’ bullpen had a hard time trying to show people that they had misconceptions about how well they pitched. Many were affected by seeing the bullpens the team had from the previous five seasons, and those bullpens were really awful.

Perhaps that was the reason fans felt uneasy whenever Maddon went to the bullpen.

In reality, the Chicago Cubs had a pretty damned good bullpen. The unit led the league in victories with 37, ranked seventh in saves with 48 and eighth in ERA at 3.38. This was one of the best bullpens in baseball.

The bullpen will be anchored by closer Hector Rondon. Rondon had 30 saves last season, and had a 1.67 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP.

Rondon scuffled a little last season, and at one point he lost his job. He came back, though, and he was lights out after getting his second chance.

Should Rondon falter in 2016, the Chicago Cubs would still have Pedro Strop (who pitched very well as the set-up man in 2015 EXCEPT when he faced the Cardinals) and Neil Ramirez, two players who have some experience closing games.

There is also Trevor Cahill and Justin Grimm, who don’t have closing experience but have closer’s stuff.

The bullpen should be a strong point for the Chicago Cubs again in 2016. There are a few pitchers who can step in and close, and there are good setup and long-inning relief guys. They can step in and keep the starters’ innings down so they are fresh down the stretch.

Next: How will the new additions fit in?