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 game story:

The 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.

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
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.




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.

suprisingly, 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.


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.

Recent comments

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  • it's day old news, and it's got nothing to do with the cubs, but ichiro signed a $2m deal with MIA (with a $2m option for 2017).

    neat. 41 years old and damn close to 3000 hits.

    also, rain delays suck.

  • take that giants

  • I think that if a team objects to the 1-game wildcard playin game so much, they could just win the pennant and avoid themselves the trouble.

  • Per Jesse Sanchez at, Cubs reportedly have signed 20-year old Cuban OF Eddy Julio Martinez for $3M bonus. 

  • BLOCK: Of course any advantage is an advantage. An MLB, NBA, or NHL team getting the extra game at home in a seven game series is an advantage, I just don't think it is enough of an advantage for winning a division and/or having the best record in a conference or league over the course of an 82-game season (NBA and NHL) or 162 game series (MLB).

  • TEX takes the opening game from TOR (@TOR) 5-3.

    TOR lost bautista + donaldson in-game due to injuries...TEX lost beltre...dunno if any will be lingering issues leading to missed games.

  • Ride the Kid Magic! Schwarber hadn't homered in a long time before last night.

  • Greg Maddux was 8-18 in his rookie season. Kyle has the 8 wins down pat.

    Think Baby Maddux.

    Prof. Harold Hill's THINK system at work.

    Kyle is on the far left.

  • I support this. Hendricks has not only looked better lately but seems to start struggling after a few innings which is better than the 1st in the playoffs.

  • Just tweeted via Jesse Rogers: Hendricks starting Game 2. Wow. Just wow.

  • That was good!

  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.