It would be easy to take today’s…unpleasantness, and conclude that the Cubs have a serious bullpen problem. Sure, they could probably use another arm, and Wade Davis’s recent hiccups certainly doesn’t put anyone at ease, but the pen has been the most functioning unit on the Cubs all season. Which is a little frightening I guess, but that’s how it’s gone down.
What it does have a problem with is walking guys. Right now Edwards has a 14.8% walk rate, or over five per nine innings. Davis is up near four. Grimm is over four. Strop isn’t far behind. That can lead to some ugly innings, and when it all goes wrong, some absolutely horrifying ones. Got that today.
Carl’s Jr. walked two guys when he couldn’t locate his fastball and seemed gun shy about throwing his curve after hanging one to Carpenter. He also seems to have lost a little cut to that fastball, which you would think would make it easier to control but here we are.
Rondon has simply been an adventure all year, and every time we think he’s found it again something like this happens. The decision making today was just stupefying. He threw a 3-2 slider to Gyorko who hadn’t even thought about biting to the previous two to walk in the tying run. He then threw three straight fastballs to DeJong. The first two got by him but it was asking a lot for a third time. That’s where a slider should have gone. At least a fastball that was above the letters. It’s one thing to be bad. It’s another to be dumb. From there it was just an avalanche. Justin Grimm certainly isn’t going to put out any fires, and I think I’m the last one off his fandom bus. It just isn’t going to happen for him.
It makes for a frustrating loss because the Cubs were mauling Carlos Martinez but could only manage three runs, and only one after the first. They had two runners on with no outs twice and then barely moved them an inch in both cases. That’s what’s been going on most of the year but not during the last week. Hopefully this isn’t a recurrence of that, just a day long outbreak.
On the good side, Arrieta was pretty effective, giving up a wind aided homer, and then watched hopelessly as Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ couldn’t get anywhere near a fly ball that was in the air for like a week. I saw some complaining that it should be Heyward in center when Happ and Schwarber are out there and in a vacuum that makes sense. But in Wrigley where the right field is considered the toughest in the game that might make it worse. But clearly this isn’t a long-term solution.