Cubs Bullpen is No Relief in Thursday's Loss

Like the Cub hitters who failed to come through in the clutch, the Cub bullpen left its fingerprints all over Thursday's loss to the Cardinals.

From the Cubs.com game story:

The bullpen...is not in sync. Aaron Heilman, who came on in relief
of starter Sean Marshall, served up Greene's homer on his third pitch.
Rookie David Patton (0-1) took the loss, giving up Yadier Molina's
tie-breaking RBI single in the seventh. Albert Pujols was intentionally
walked, but the other two Cardinals who were walked both scored.

"All we can do is preach," Piniella said. "That's all we can do is say what's good for the individual."

Heilman says there's only one thing they can do.

"Pitch better," Heilman said. "There's no other way to get
around it. There's no real magic formula that you can say, 'Do this,
this and this' and everything's going to click. Sometimes it takes
days, sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes it takes longer to figure
out. We have to keep going out there, be aggressive and keep pitching,
and things will fall into place."

Game by game, here is how the Cub bullpen has fared so far in 2009.

Date
Opponent
IP
H
ER
BB
 K
4/6 Astros 3 3 1 1 0
4/7 Astros 3.1 4 1 3 3
4/8 Astros 4 3 1 0 3
4/10 Brewers    2.1 1 2 5 1
4/11 Brewers 3 2 2 3 5
4/12 Brewers 3 2 1 1 2
4/13 Rockies 2.1 0 0 2 4
4/15 Rockies 6 4 1 2 6
4/16 Cards  4 5 4 2 3
  TOTAL
31
24
13
20 29

Through Wednesday's game—yes that's just 8 games; Small Sample Alert!—the Cubs were 4th among NL bullpens in ERA (3.00), 3rd in Batting Average Against (.200) and 4th in OPS Against (.646).

By comparison, last year the Cub bullpen finished 8th in ERA (4.10), 11th in OPS Against (.741), and 7th in Batting Average Against (.251).

That said, Cotts, Heilman, and Gregg are hardly inspiring confidence, young Patton is trying to make the monster jump from A-ball in just one year, and Angel Guzman looks like the proverbial guy with great stuff but not the ability to control it.

Yes, it's still ridiculously early in the season, but with a team that otherwise seems so World Series-worthy, one has to assume that Jim Hendry won't wait  long to start moving
around pieces in his bullpen.

 

 

Comments

I can see a Gooz with a "Marlin" on his chest. Its where all of our young pitchers with "good stuff" go. What aging, mediocre veteran will we get this time?

Ump says Bradley bumped him...may get suspended.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090417&c...

suprisingly, mlb.com has the clip in the story, usually they don't replay controversial plays and all I have to say is that ump is clearly rasict. :)

I don't see the bump...

And man, was that a bad call.

He could have bumped him after he gets tossed as he goes in for his final word and the ump turns his shoulder towards him, but with no video evidence of it, and the fact that the new questec system, whatever it is called is going to show that the umpire was incorrect on two calls in the sequence should get Bradley off the hook.

Even if he does get suspsended, they can just appeal it until the next time a muscle gets strained anyway.

It's these kinds of douchebag umps that have moved me from the "no way to instant replay" camp to the "meh, who cares" camp. Do your job right or bring in technology to do your job. It already seems like the gameday pitch zone thing is more accurate than the umps.

Thanks for the video link... a still image of the pitch. That's about where it crossed the front of the plate.

I don't think the team's success or failure is ultimately due to good or bad calls because they go both ways over the course of a season, but I think when they are considering Bradley's punishment, they should consider the actual call. Crazy idea, I know.

Terrible call.

In the ump's defense, the pitch is well within Ryno's official k-zone.

"and all I have to say is that ump is clearly rasict"

No question - and because of that incident, all umpires are genetically and inherently racist for the rest of time. End of story.

BTW, for those who are interested, Fergie Jenkins did an interview at the local PBS outlet here (WTTW), and it's airing tonight (the program is called Chicago Tonight). I've seen a few preview clips, and he talks candidly about the racism he experienced during his ST days in Florida. The host also asked Fergie directly about Wittenmeyer's article, and he answered directly in kind. He expresses the same thoughts that I was attempting to make earlier much more clearly - and succinctly. Since Fergie played in the days when the racist attitudes expressed in this country were much more widespread and nefarious, I tend to think he's coming from a more accurate place than most of the rest of us here.

Sorry I'm slightly confused by this post...clearly the bullpen hasn't been good, but these numbers seem...average. I mean the K/BB seems a little low, but the WHIP is about average and ERA seems fine too. I don't think I could easily point to the bullpen as our weakest link thus far.

Yeah, I was thinking the numbers are okay, too, but my point was, even with the pretty good numbers, there are still signs of potential problems down the road, e.g., the K/BB ratio you mentioned or just the fact that they've given out 20 BB in only 30 innings. My larger point was that this team has generally been built to win now and that Hendry won't wait long to start tinkering with the pen, where, just by swapping out an arm or two--assuming they're the right arms--you could effect some pretty significant improvement.

barring something radical the only options are mitch atkins or taking samninja out of his starter-grooming role to return him to the cubs pen.

i'm not a fan of either option vs. what's here.

-edit-

oops, forgot about asscan...he's a legit option.

Got it. Yeah, I would agree with all of that. I haven't seen any numbers, but I would be willing to bet our starters are giving up too many walks, also. I do get what you're saying with respect to this not being a championship-caliber bullpen.

Bullpen is an issue somewhat. Especially when Patton hasn't ever pitched above A ball, and it is starting to show. Then, you have guys that you sent to AAA that are pitching lights out, like Chad Fox. It's really a guessing game on who to bring up and who to send down.

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  • Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.

    VirginiaPhil 3 hours 26 min ago view
  • video of Maddon.

    http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561343809737202839-4

    always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.

    Rob G. 18 hours 37 min ago view
  • from Muskat:

    #Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs

    Rob G. 18 hours 42 min ago view
  • http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561339391889382475-4

    Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.

    Rob G. 18 hours 48 min ago view
  • great defense

    Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.

    Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.

    I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.

    Rob G. 18 hours 59 min ago view
  • If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?

    Craig A. 19 hours 10 min ago view
  • #Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.

    Fun with FIP

    • J. Hammel   3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
    • J. Arrieta     2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
    • J. Lester     2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
    • K. Hendricks  2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
    • J. Lackey     3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
    Rob G. 19 hours 36 min ago view
  • zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k

    he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.

    crunch 20 hours 16 min ago view
  • JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.

    My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.

    Jackstraw 21 hours 28 min ago view
  • Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...

    billybucks 21 hours 45 min ago view
  • joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1

    not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.

    really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.

    crunch 21 hours 49 min ago view
  • Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.

    Eric S 22 hours 34 min ago view
  • Classic Scully - great stuff.

    Thank God we'll still have Hawk next season. (cricket cricket cricket)

    Eric S 1 day 3 hours ago view
  • Here's Scully's call on Bryant's 10th-inning homer:

    "And it's a long fly ball, a mean fly ball, and a gone fly ball."

    VirginiaPhil 1 day 4 hours ago view
  • When the Cubs were the old, hundred-year Cubs, one bad hop did not undo their opponents.

    VirginiaPhil 1 day 4 hours ago view
  • If only he was clutcher. More clutcher.

    Jackstraw 1 day 6 hours ago view