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.
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.