The Chicago Cubs attempt to bolster the bullpen.
In what may be the biggest understatement thus far of the 2020 season, the Chicago Cubs have one of the worst — if not the worst — bullpen in the league. Their latest move to call up Justin Steele is at least an attempt to bolster the underperforming unit.
The biggest culprit so far has certainly been closer Craig Kimbrel. He appears to be a shell of the player the Cubs signed to a large deal last season.
But the harsh reality is that no one in the bullpen has set the world on fire. In fact, as a unit, they currently hold an ERA of 9.64. Consequently, you would be hard-pressed to find a member of the pen who Cubs fans have any confidence in. That’s not a good feeling as a fan — especially when you feel like no lead is ever safe. Eventually, it’ll start to take a major toll on the offense and the rest of the team.
The Cubs are trying to improve their pen, but at this point, are severely limited in what they can do, absent a trade. They recently made a move to acquire former Cleveland Indians reliever Cody Allen, who was very strong in 2016 and 2017 but has declined in each of the last two seasons.
In their latest move, the Cubs made another marginal attempt to improve the pen by calling up lefty Justin Steele. Steele, drafted by the Cubs in 2014 has largely toiled around the minors his entire career, underscoring the Cubs’ desperation.
Now after six years in the minors, Steele is getting is shot and will be active before the Cubs’ game later today against the Pittsburgh Pirates. As bad as the pen has been, it would be no surprise to see Steele make his debut today as well. Perhaps the lefty gives the unit a shot in the arm. Maybe a young lefty fighting for his major league life could give the pen the boost that it needs to get back on track.
While his track record doesn’t necessarily suggest that will happen (career line of 3.74 ERA, 342 hits, 142 walks, and 332 strikeouts in 339.1 innings) sometimes a team can catch lightning in a bottle with a move like this. At this point, really, the Cubs will try just about anything to get the pen going.