Chicago Cubs: 3 must-have bullpen arms at trade deadline

(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /
1 of 4
Chicago Cubs, Rowan Wick
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs need to address its bullpen to make some noise in October.

The Chicago Cubs‘ strong play to start the abbreviated season has launched the team into first place in the NL Central, but the positive results over the team’s first thirty games have been overshadowed by concerns about the bullpen.

Through Wednesday night’s series finale in Detroit, the Cubs have the second-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 5.79, trailing only the Philadelphia Phillies‘ almost unbelievable 7.52 mark. Unfortunately, peripheral statistics don’t paint a much prettier picture.

The Cubs bullpen has walked 12.3 percent of opposing batters, and when hitters do make contact, they’re hitting .247 with a hard-hit rate of 46.2 percent. In those three metrics – walk rate, batting average allowed, and opponent’s hard-hit rate – the Cubs rank as the 7th, 8th, and 3rd worst team, respectively.

If it isn’t clear already, let me spell it out plainly: the Cubs’ bullpen has been horrific.

So far this season, only Ryan Tepera, Jeremy Jeffress, and Rowan Wick have inspired much confidence coming out of the ‘pen.

While there aren’t many internal options that would represent a significant upgrade to the team’s relief corps, there are a few.

Craig Kimbrel‘s early-season struggles seem to be behind him. His performance during his last five appearances suggests that he may have turned a corner. If Kimbrel can get back to anywhere near his pre-Cubs form, he could single-handedly transform the bullpen.

At the team’s alternate training site, the Cubs have a trio of young pitchers who could be called upon for help in the second half of the season – Adbert Alzolay, Brailyn Marquez, and Burl Carraway.

Alzolay’s the only one of the three with big league experience, and he looked strong in his lone appearance this year, striking out six over five scoreless innings against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Marquez and Carraway are as inexperienced as potential major league players can be. Marquez has never thrown a pitch at a level above High-A, and Carraway has only been in the Cubs organization for a few months. He was the team’s second-round selection in the 2020 amateur draft.

Both may be inexperienced, but they have repertoires that should play up to the big league level quickly, plus, they’re both left-handed options, something the team desperately needs.

The Cubs are clearly short on internal options for bullpen help, and the team may not be comfortable relying on such inexperienced pitchers down the stretch. Going outside of the organization to shore up the reliever group may be the team’s best option.

These three relievers would make great additions to the Cubs, and they come from teams who will almost assuredly be interested in selling off any useful pieces they have.