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So Many Bullpen Worries, So Many Road Problems, So Many Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

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  • Does it feel like the Cubs have blown a lot of leads lately? Yeah. That’s because they have literally led in every single game since the All-Star break … and have only won 8 of those 14 games. That is not great. Worse? In four of their last five games, the Cubs have had a lead in the 8th inning … and they won just one of those games. You feel very bad right now, and you are right to do so.
  • Oh, also, the Cubs fell to 19-31 on the road, and haven’t won a road series in their last 9 tries. This is a playoff contender, I’m told.
  • Steve Cishek is an awesome reliever, who, given his ability and the construct of this bullpen, should be the 8th inning setup guy on most days. But when he’s coming off a wild 26-pitch outing that spanned two innings – and has been used heavily in the second half – maybe he wasn’t the right guy last night. But Joe Maddon had made up his mind far in advance (The Athletic): “It was Cishek’s inning. It’s very simple. Cishek was ready to go today, so once we got through the seventh and we’re in that position, it was going to be all Cishek at that point.”
  • It just seems like, with Rowan Wick available and looking so good, some flexibility would have been advised. Also, and relatedly, why go to Tyler Chatwood – a contact pitcher who just started on almost no notice a few days ago – in a jam instead of a strikeout guy like Wick? I totally get that Maddon has to made due with the pitchers he has, and mostly he’s just fine managing the bullpen, but the last few weeks, I have been scratching my head more than usual.
  • Of course, it all would have been just fine if Craig Kimbrel had been able to close things out in the 10th. Instead, he went homer, walk, homer, and that was it. In case you were wondering if that is common for him, it’s not:

  • I think it’s fair to be concerned about Kimbrel’s ability to ramp up like usual at this point. I’m less concerned about the longer-term investment, but I’m not so sure he’s going to kick up his velocity from the current 95ish range to his more typical 98 within the next few weeks. Yes, he usually does trend up as the season goes on, but he’s currently not trending up, and it’s been a month. Also, he was starting from an even lower spot than usual (Brooks):

  • Concern, for this year, is very justified:

  • And with Pedro Strop also dealing with velocity decline (and serious command issues), and Carl Edwards Jr. unlikely to contribute, the Cubs’ late-inning, high-strikeout-type options are virtually non-existent (except for internal guys on whom the Cubs would have to roll the dice – like Wick, like Dillon Maples, like James Norwood, etc.).
  • Scoot scoot scoot:

  • Am I allowed to still enjoy this, even though the Cubs lost:



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.