Round Robin: Cubs Bullpen (Thus Far)
Today, some of the Cubs DNA team speak to the biggest weakness of the 2020 Cubs to this point: the bullpen.
The Cubs bullpen has had a few reasonable performers, but has struggled more often than not. Too many walks allowed. Too many homer runs allowed. Too much contact has led to too many bloop hits. It's a cause for concern, but has the capability to get better.
What's your worry level on Craig Kimbrel?
Pronk: Snootily, I was never worried about Kimbrel, because I already assumed he would be bad. Less snootily, he's a major concern still. Really, he's trending downward. I want to believe he can figure out something and be decent this year, but I'll be more surprised if he has a successful year than if he has a bad one.
Steve: On a scale of 1-10, an 8. I think he needs to pitch his way into success since I think there is something mechanical that is affecting him. The issue is is that there isn't much time for him to pitch this season and the Cubs have already played a little over 1/6th of the season.
Staci: Probably a 5? I just can't be bothered to get too doomy over Kimbrel, but I do think the coaching staff is on the verge of helping him figure things out, especially with his velocity back up closer to its norms.
Who's given you confidence so far?
Pronk: Jeffress has looked like a go to arm. He's filled the role that Strop fell short in last year. I like Tepera's stuff, even though he got rocked once. If Quintana comes back well and Mills shifts back into the pen, I think he can be a great long reliever this year.
Steve: Wick and Jeffress. I think Wick can be the future closer for this team as early as this season. Jeffress has impressed me and I wasn't too high on his signing so it has been a great misread on my end.
Staci: Hmm, I seem to recall someone writing a farticle about how we'd all be happy the Cubs signed Jeremy Jeffress. Oh yeah, that was me! Jeffress has not only looked good, but he brings the kind of attitude you want in a guy coming in in a tight spot--100% confident. Rowan Wick has picked up where he left off last season, and as our friend Bert keeps saying, Casey Sadler looks like he could be "a guy" so far.
Is Dillon Maples done as a Cub?
Pronk: I think we are beginning to see the end of his time. He probably sticks it out with the organization this year, but that's it.
Steve: No. I will continue to dream on the stuff and you can't stop me.
Staci: For my own sanity, I hope so. Listen, I like Maples, he's cute and I'm sure he's a very nice person, but the Cubs coaching staff just can't seem to unlock his control issues. Maybe another team could, but it's time to move on.
What moves might you make to shore things up?
Pronk: I want to see Adam, Mekkes, Megill, and Hultzen come up at some point. I think they all have upside, and certainly can't be worse than what we've seen out of Maples and Kimbrel's walkfest outings. I think that Marquez and Carraway could be dark horse candidates for contributions as well. Hopefully it doesn't get to the point where the Cubs need to rely on them in key slots.
Steve: This season I am not in favor of any trades being made. I think it would be unfair to send away a player in this pandemic especially with how well the organization has done. If there are moves to be made (and there are) they all lie in South Bend.
Staci: Rather than do something dumb like mess with the current rotation, I'd like to see the Cubs try Jose Quintana in the bullpen once he comes back. They need another lefty out there (Rex Brothers ain't it) with Wieck on the IL, and Q might be super effective in that role. Plus, moving either Chatty or Mills when they're doing SO VERY WELL would just not be wise. At all.
How has David Ross done managing the bullpen so far?
Pronk: Decent. He seems to have a much longer leash for players thus far. Part of that might be early season-let's see what you have- isms. I'm also not sure if I'm used to Joe Maddon's quick hooks as what I'm comparing to either. Overall good, but the jury is still out.
Steve: So far he as earned an A in my book. He has let guys show what they can do and has given them a little leeway if they struggled early. But we have also seen he isn't afraid to take guys out of roles if they aren't performing. Can't ask for more in my opinion.
Staci: I think Rossy's done a great job, especially considering he's working with the new 3-batter rule and a broken closer. Mind you, it helps that the starters have been so great, but I think he's giving guys just enough of a leash and pulling them at the right times to keep everything from blowing up. We'll see how things progress, but as of right now I wanna give him a big, socially distanced hug.