The additions the Chicago Cubs have made to their starting rotation have been undeniably great. The rotation for the Cubs in the upcoming season will feature three opening day starters from last season in Jon Lester, Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana, a game seven World Series starter in Kyle Hendricks, and a solid addition in Tyler Chatwood to round out the rotation. With the addition of Yu Darvish, Theo Epstein and the Cubs have made it clear they are not satisfied with only one World Series ring. However, last season the bullpen for the North Siders was questionable, and with the loss of Wade Davis via free agency this offseason, the relief staff left more questions than answers at the end of last season.
Brandon Morrow will attempt to fill the role of closer that Davis left. However, Davis will be a hard act to follow. After coming off a year in which he earned 32 saves and allowed just 15 ER in 59 appearances, Davis signed a three-year $52 million contract with the Colorado Rockies, leaving big shoes to fill at the back end of the Cubs bullpen.
The biggest concern for the Cubs when it comes to Morrow is not his ability, but his history of injury. Because of this, Joe Maddon and his staff will monitor Marrow’s workload closely. Marrow spent most of last season in the setup role for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also pitched in 14 of the Dodgers 15 postseason games last fall. Over that stretch, he allowed only two runs in 13 2/3 innings. If Morrow stays healthy, there’s no doubt he can produce. His average four-seam fastball was clocked in at 98.3 mph last postseason, the third best among all pitchers. However, stepping into the role Davis left will be hard for a player not accustomed to the closing role. The last time Morrow had double digit saves in a season was his 2008 campaign with Seattle.
Carl Edwards Jr, Pedro Strop, Mike Montgomery and Brian Duensing, along with Justin Grimm and Justin Wilson will return to the Cubs bullpen. The additions of Steve Cishek, Dario Alvarez, Cory Mazzoni, Shae Simmons and Randy Rosario will look to make the Cubs bullpen competitive in the coming season.
The addition of Jim Hickey as the Cubs new pitching coach may be the most significant change for the pitching staff. Chris Bosio and the Cubs parted ways after the 2017 season, after Bosio spent the past six seasons as the pitching coach on the North Side. Jim Hickey was the pitching coach for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2007 to 2017. During his tenure, the Rays earned a chance to play in the World Series in 2008, under head coach Joe Maddon.