Chicago Cubs: The definitive guide to the 2020-21 offseason

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Chicago Cubs, Pedro Strop
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Chicago Cubs must add pitching depth

There’s no way to sugarcoat it. The Cubs bullpen was…not good in 2020.

4.38 ERA. 1.34 WHIP. Five blown saves in just 21 opportunities.

Of relievers with 10 or more innings pitched, only Dan Winkler and Jeremy Jeffress had an ERA below 3.00.

Oh, and they’re both free agents this offseason.

The Cubs saw two different versions of closer Craig Kimbrel this season, who posted a 6.75 ERA in August before Jeffress took over the role. Kimbrel then returned to the position and allowed zero earned runs in September and October.

Ideally, they get the late-season Kimbrel in 2021 and can focus on middle relief, although that unfortunately will remain to be seen during the offseason.

But it’s not just the bullpen that needs a boost.

With Jon Lester hitting free agency, the Cubs have a huge hole at the top of their rotation. They get a bit of payroll relief in that Jose Quintana is now a free agent, but aside from Yu Darvish’s consistency and Kyle Hendricks’s dominance at Wrigley Field, the rotation will need a bit of an overhaul (especially if they’re unable to lure Lester back to the North Side).

Young righty Adbert Alzolay looked solid in four starts with a 1-1 record and a 3.31 ERA, so it’s possible he could be back-end starter next year.

That would leave Darvish, Hendricks and Alzolay as the three starters with two holes to fill just to get the healthy rotation to five.