Already working without Brandon Morrow, the Cubs had been leaning on Pedro Strop as their somewhat regular closer for more than a month when he strained his hamstring running to first base five days ago. Although he remains hopeful that he can return in the regular season, it is more likely that the Cubs will be without him until at least the postseason.
Well, it still may very well prove to be, but so far, the bullpen has done nothing but shine in his absence. Consider this: since Strop’s injury, the bullpen has covered 9.2 innings … without allowing a run. That’ll play.
Overall this year, the Cubs’ bullpen has been excellent, a point that I don’t think is lost on most Cubs fans. Remember the literal months earlier this year when the bullpen was carrying the team on its back? It has continued to shine, despite injuries, and although it may not feel like the bullpen has been as dominant lately, the overall performance is still very strong.
Theo Epstein wants to make sure you don’t miss it.
“I honestly think the quality of our bullpen is being overlooked,” Epstein told Cubs.com. “It’d be nice if we could be one of those teams that has the best bullpen ERA in the league – oh, wait, that’s us, by like a third of a run.”
OH WAIT THAT’S US.
Good line, Theo.
Epstein went on to point out that it’s not even like the Cubs are simply being carried in the pen by a couple truly dominant guys – instead, the whole group has pretty much just been solid. Of course it would be better with Morrow and Strop back – and hopefully they will be back at full strength – but the guys who’ve been doing work lately have been doing it very, very well. Justin Wilson has been fantastic. Jesse Chavez was a revelation. Steve Cishek has been a workhorse all year. Randy Rosario just keeps getting results. Carl Edwards Jr. is the best of the bunch when he’s on.
A bonus shout to the bullpen: their 0.79 HR/9 is the best mark in baseball. When you consider what relievers are tasked with doing, the ability to keep the ball in the ballpark is critical. And the Cubs have been the best of the bunch.