Cubs Bullpen Set a Franchise Record and Led the League in Strikeouts and Other Cubs Bullets

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Cubs Bullpen Set a Franchise Record and Led the League in Strikeouts and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Yesterday succckkkkkked. And all I can do is hope that today will not continue the sucking.

Specifically, it was a “site problems” day. Thankfully, I don’t know that you all could see the problems, because they were mostly in our back-end (though they did seriously limit my ability to just write about baseball, which is all I really want to do … ). We are working on getting more professional support in this area, though, and I hope that soon you will no longer see notes like this at the top of Bullets. Then I can go back to filling this space with kid stuff you don’t care about, or TV stuff you don’t care about, or …

  • One of the home runs in last night’s Padres-Phillies game was a Manny Machado shot off of David Robertson, who was able to get over his Harper-celebration-induced calf injury quickly enough to make the NLCS roster for the Phillies. That reminded me that I never really gave a good long look at how Robertson performed after the trade from the Cubs, as compared to his time with the Cubs. Turns out there was probably a good reason I hadn’t heard much about it: he was basically just exactly the same guy with the Phillies as he was with the Cubs. The walk rate went up a bit and the ERA went up a little bit, but mostly he was getting the same results and almost exactly matched his above-30% strikeout rate. Even at 37/38, he should find a much better deal in free agency than the one the Cubs got him on (one-year, $3.5 million).
  • Speaking of that 30.9% Robertson strikeout rate with the Cubs, it was the highest on the team last year among full-time relievers who actually saw a lot of action – but funny enough, it was only 7th on the team overall. Ahead of Robertson? Locke St. John, Eric Stout, Adbert Alzolay, Franmil Reyes, Daniel Norris, and Jeremiah Estrada. Alzolay and Estrada obviously will factor into the 2023 team, but they didn’t get much time this past season.
  • It’s funny, then, that the Cubs’ bullpen actually set a franchise record for strikeouts in 2022, while also leading the league with 716 total strikeouts. How the heck did that happen? Well, a few reasons. For one, even though the Cubs didn’t have many over-30 strikeout rate guys, they had a ton of guys who were in that 25 to 30% range. For another, strikeout rates in general just keep climbing, so you’re more likely to set that kind of franchise record today than you would’ve been 15 years ago. And for another, the Cubs’ bullpen simply threw a tonnnn of innings this year. At 657.0 IP, the Cubs’ bullpen was used more than any other bullpen in baseball outside of Tampa Bay (682.2 IP), and obviously they have some uniqueness there in who counts as a “reliever.”
  • In a related point, the Cubs did not have a single pitcher throw at least 140.0 innings for the first (non-pandemic) season in franchise history (Tribune). They used 42 pitchers overall, which was another franchise record, and tied the MLB record (Mariners in 2019).
  • So, I have a decent amount of Águilas Cibaeñas stuff come across my feed because it’s the DWL team Alexander Canario is playing on, and I like to keep tabs. But last night, it meant that I was seeing Yoenis Céspedes highlight after Yoenis Céspedes highlight:
  • Céspedes, who turned 37 this week, played a few games in the 2020 pandemic season, but otherwise hasn’t actually played a meaningful stretch in the big leagues since May of 2018. A string of injuries – including the infamous wild boar injury – have mostly kept him off the field over the last four years, which was a shame because the guy was looking like he could be an offensive monster. The kind that does such silly things that you always like seeing what he’ll do next.
  • This run in the Dominican Republic is Céspedes’ first time playing anywhere since that failed attempt in 2020, and obviously he’s raking in the early returns. I wonder if the idea is to play his way into a shot somewhere in Spring Training as a part-time DH. It seems pretty unlikely, given his age and the time away, but it could be a fun story to follow.
  • This is a perfect example of the “why would anyone swing at that pitch” phenomenon:

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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.