Chicago Cubs: 5 reasons the Cubs are World Series favorites

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs Pedro Stop Willson Contreras
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The Cubs bullpen has been one of the most effective in 2018.

Although the Cubs starting pitching hasn’t lived up to the hype this season, the bullpen has been phenomenal. The team’s relievers collectively have the 4th best ERA in MLB.

Offseason acquisition Steve Cishek has led the way. In his first full season in Chicago, Cishek has pitched to a 1.77 ERA, the fourth-best mark among all qualified relievers. He’s also bumped his strikeout rate up nearly five percent since last season to a sterling 28.4 percent. Cishek has been one of Maddon’s go-to guys out of the ‘pen, coming into tight situations regardless of what inning it is.

Carl Edwards Jr. is also putting together a great season. Although he missed the entire month of June with right shoulder inflammation, Edwards is still tied for 23rd among all qualified relievers in fWAR with 1.2 so far this year.

Edwards has admirably served in the late-innings stopper role, primarily pitching in high leverage situations in close games; his 32 percent strikeout rate makes him perfect for that role.

light. Related Story. Can the Cubs win in the playoffs without Brandon Morrow?

Another standout this season has been long-time Cub Pedro Strop. He may not have some of the eye-catching numbers that Cishek and Edwards have, but he’s done a good job of filling in as the Cubs’ closer in Morrows’ absence. He has converted 11 of his 15 save opportunities this year.

Strop is once again in the running for most under-appreciated Cub – he’s in the middle of his fifth straight season with an ERA under three.

As the Cubs continue to wait for Morrow to make his return to the closer role, the bullpen is in good hands. They should have many leads to protect thanks to an offense led by Bryant and Rizzo.