The Chicago Cubs have been very busy so far this offseason with one clear goal in mind: strengthening the bullpen. So far the Cubs have signed five pitchers and it seems like they still want more.
After the departures of Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Hector Rondon, and Wade Davis this offseason, a gaping hole was left in a bullpen that was already bleeding runs. The Chicago Cubs were torched in the playoffs by opposing hitters, as the Cubs’ relievers struggled to throw strikes and get outs in crucial moments. Arrieta and Davis were solid in the playoffs, but Joe Maddon lost faith in Lackey and Rondon. They hardly saw any playing time, and Lackey gave up a walk off home run to Justin Turner in the NLCS in a relieving role.
Newly signed Tyler Chatwood should slide right in as the Cubs’ fourth pitcher in the rotation. Chatwood’s numbers last year were a bit skewed by the fact that half of his games were played in Colorado where balls fly out of the stadium. Outside of Colorado, Chatwood actually put up very respectable numbers and had an above average ground-ball rate. The Cubs are hoping that he can be the next Jake Arrieta, and churn out the best season of his career.
The Cubs will also be excited to debut Brandon Morrow who could potentially slide into the closer role. Morrow relieved for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season with an ERA of 2.06 in 45 appearances. He was one of the more exciting relieving options on the market this winter and could help out tremendously in those troublesome late game situations that the Cubs struggled so much with this postseason.
The other signings made by the Cubs this offseason most likely won’t have as much of an impact as Chatwood and Morrow, but there’s still reason to get excited about them. Drew Smyly, for example, was putting up great numbers when he was traded to the Seattle Mariners last season, but required Tommy John surgery and never made an appearance for them. He will most likely miss the entire 2018 season for the Cubs, but should be healthy and ready to go come 2019. Dario Alvarez was claimed off the waiver wire, and should see most of his action at Triple-A Iowa until he proves himself worthy of Chicago.
A recent report also suggests that the Cubs are going to have a go at the biggest free agent on the market: Yu Darvish. If the Cubs could pull that off, they would possibly have the best starting lineup of pitchers in the entire MLB. If they can’t manage Darvish, Mike Montgomery has made it clear that he’s ready for the opportunity to take on that role.
The Chicago Cubs also signed pitching coach Jim Hickey shortly after the playoffs ended to get a fresh pair of eyes on the struggling bullpen. Hickey has experience with Joe Maddon back from his days with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Hickey and Maddon had great success together in Tampa Bay and that success should continue this year as the Cubs have successfully retooled for another playoff run in 2018.
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