The Cubs' Bullpen is the Best Around, Even Without Their Top Arms and Other Bullets

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The Cubs’ Bullpen is the Best Around, Even Without Their Top Arms and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

carl edwards jr cubsI hope everyone is enjoying their Labor Day, cookin’ up some burgers and dogs and what-have-you, and sippin’ on some beers and cocktails and what-have-you, and readin’ on some blogs and some Twitters and what-have-you.

  • We just did this a few days earlier, but once again I say: how about that freaking bullpen yesterday? With John Lackey limited to five innings in his return from a shoulder strain, the bullpen had to provide the Cubs eight innings of work in a marathon outing. And they did it: eight scoreless frames from Rob Zastryzny (still going strong), Joe Smith (he looked good again), Travis Wood (faced and retired two lefties – nice), Carl Edwards Jr. (stud), Aroldis Chapman (ooh, multi-inning appearance), Justin Grimm (might be the Cubs’ best reliever over the past month+), and Trevor Cahill (he’s been very solid since returning from the DL). Even in September, with extra arms available, that’s incredible work.

  • It’s hard to give a precise date when the Cubs started playing without Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, because although we know exactly when Strop hurt his knee, Rondon had kinda been out for a while before that, even though he wasn’t on the DL, and even though he came back for two games after Strop’s injury, but then went on the DL. So, then, if we split the baby, the Cubs have been without their top two setup pitchers for about a month. In that time, the bullpen has posted a 1.7 WAR, the highest total in the entire National League. Their 3.16 ERA is second best (Pirates), ditto their 3.21 FIP (Braves), and their 3.27 xFIP is on top. In other words, since losing Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, the Cubs’ bullpen has gone on to be the best in the National League. Seriously, I ask: is there anything this team can’t do?
  • Speaking of that bullpen, Joe Nathan, who was released shortly after making his way back to the big leagues following a second Tommy John surgery, has a really good attitude about what happened (ESPN). He knows that, were it not for the timing of things, it would have played out differently (even joking about wishing there was a crystal ball that would have shown four pitchers getting injured just after he was released). He’ll get a shot now with the Giants, and he even got to pitch a perfect frame yesterday against the Cubs, with a strikeout of Kris Bryant to end it.
  • John Lackey looked good yesterday, and, even if he acknowledged that he might feel a little something in the shoulder (“You’re not gonna feel nothing,” he said, per CSN. “It’s just not possible. This time of year and this point in my career. There’s things you gotta grind through; there’s things you gotta adjust to.”), it seems like he’s going to be good to go for the stretch run. Who knows? Having the opportunity to hold back for a few weeks, and then the shortening outings that will necessarily follow this month, might actually put him in the best possible spot to succeed come October.
  • As noted in the Scoreboard Watching this morning, Clayton Kershaw is re-joining the Dodgers on Friday. That’s huge news for the playoff races and, of course, the playoffs, if he is healthy enough to be his normal self after two months missed with a back injury.
  • I’ve seen quite a few fun-hating buttholes lamenting the designation of yesterday’s game as “The Jason Heyward Game.” Setting aside the fact that these are light-hearted things that no one should take seriously (where were you guys after “The Taylor Teagarden Game” for crying out loud?), there’s pretty real precedent for Heyward to get that title yesterday. Even if you ignore the fact that his bat scored all three of the Cubs’ runs, he’s the first Cubs player in 26 years to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th and then walk it off in extra innings (Andre Dawson, 1990). Perhaps it’s not quite as dramatic as a 9th inning homer to tie it and then another to win it in extras (Kyle Schwarber on the road last year, for example), but it hasn’t happened like that at Wrigley in 26 years. Come on. That’s something, ya buttholes. (That’s a holiday double butthole Bullet right there – also a first since 1990.)
  • And that’s to say nothing of the fact that, come on, the guy deserves a little extra love after grinding through the season he’s had. Or maybe it’s just that the fans deserve a moment of Heyward-related offensive happiness. Speaking of which:

  • Two more things from yesterday that I enjoyed a great deal:

  • Big sale today on Anker electronics and accessories for their 5th anniversary. For example, I didn’t know this was a thing, but I just ordered it: a wall-charger for your iPhone/iPad/whatever that purportedly charges faster than the one you got with the device. 68% off today. Excellent. Almost nice. Does it make me stupid that I didn’t know this type of charger was a thing? I kinda just assumed they were all the same, because, like, I mean, the power is just coming out of the wall at whatever rate it can. Yeah, that does make me sound stupid. We’re always scrambling to get just a little juice before we head out the door. I probably should have done some Googling.


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.