The Looming Bullpen Crunch, Duensing's Challenge, Theo's Savagery, and Other Bullets

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The Looming Bullpen Crunch, Duensing’s Challenge, Theo’s Savagery, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Why must the best-tasting version of my preferred morning coffee also be the most unhealthy? I know that’s often the case with food and drink, but I can usually find a healthier version of something I like that is as good or better than the unhealthy versions out there. But I keep trying to play around with coffee, and I just can’t get there. It’s either drink the reasonably healthy version and it’s “fine,” or drink the unhealthy version and it’s “heaven.” (It’s an iced vanilla latte, by the way, and yes, yes, I know what’s coming. Bring it on. Don’t care. It’s good.)

  • On the whole, it was another solid bullpen performance for the Cubs last night, even if not quite best-in-baseball (as their ERA has been since April 7). That is a surprisingly potent Mariners lineup, playing in their house, and keeping them to a couple runs over the final 3.2 innings ain’t too shabby. If you were wondering why the bullpen usage played out as it did last night, it’s because Joe Maddon was considering several of his relievers “down” after some heavy usage over the weekend:

  • The Cubs could have optioned Dillon Maples back to Iowa to bring up a fresh arm for last night’s game, so either that says a lot about the opportunity they want to give Maples, or it means they have other plans for the bullpen that will require more coordination on the timing (remember, guys who are optioned down can’t come back for 10 days unless there’s an injury, so you have to be a little forward-looking as you try to rotate through your depth options).
  • To that end, you are reminded that the Cubs are on the cusp of having not one, not two, but three rehabbing arms available to join the bullpen in Mike Montgomery, Tony Barnette, and Xavier Cedeño. If healthy and at their typical level of effectiveness, all three are guys you’d want in the pen. The problem? The Cubs have only two optionable relievers in the pen right now, and one of those two – Kyle Ryan – has been among the more effective relievers (Maples is the other). Soon, the Cubs will have to make decisions about who they can risk losing for good.
  • Also, by the way: that run Brandon Kintzler gave up last night on a homer was the first run he’d given up since April 5, and that was the only other appearance all year in which he gave up a run. He’s been very productive so far this season.
(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
  • Given that Jose Quintana’s results this year have been really good, this is a very nice thing to see:

  • Brian Duensing was such a revelation for the Cubs in 2017, and his fall in 2018 was so swift and far and hard that it makes me fairly sad to think about, in the context of a guy who had ground so hard for so long to try to make it in the big leagues. Even now, he’s still grinding, but he knows the end might be near:

  • Observing the pictures from Kyle Schwarber’s homer closely, a former large adult son watches on, as a sentry on guard:

  • Speaking of which, this is a good line:

Author: Brett Taylor

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