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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  • I know, man. What a season. 3rd best record in all of baseball, good enough to have won any division other than the one there in.

    With a win tomorrow, the Cubs will match their 2008 record. Bad omen, I know. If they do win, the most recent year in which the Cubs will have won more games would be 1945 (98-56), the last time they went to the World Series.

    I'll take that omen instead...

  • "oh yeah, and get the fuck off my lawn. :D"

    Ok, now that was funny. :)

  • KB 0-5 with 8 LOB. Really? He is torturing me with 99 RBI. He is also a very different hitter at home vs. road. I suspect most young hitters are.

  • Greinke still in for the 8th. 3 up, 3 down. After 8. 108 pitches, ERA still at 1.66 according to mlb boxscore and he's in line for a 19th win.

  • Greinke 95 pitches through 7. Gives up one run (solo HR to Hedges). ERA at 1.66. Doubt that they will let him give up 5 runs in the 8th.

    Dodgers ahead 2-1.

  • 96 wins with one game to go. Who woulda thunk it.

    Cubs 96 wins have clinched a better record than any AL team and the NL West/East division winners too.

  • cubs win, pirates lose...

  • the curse is now yours.

  • cog a HR away from the cycle after a single in the 6th.

  • Hendricks: 15 up, 15 down.

  • he strongly separates his post-playing career from his playing career, though he loves to visit the barrier of player and fan. many ex-players don't put up this barrier.

    he's not interested in going back to the clubhouse or pretty much anything field/game related, but he'll grab a ticket and observe with the fans and visit ex players on "neutral" ground. he's written 3 pieces for the new yorker and other pieces elsewhere. i remember one photo/bio piece he did, but don't remember where i read it (years ago).

  • ?
    I find your comments rather obtuse. He recognized he didn't want to pursue baseball anymore and went back to school to learn how to become a better writer - opening up a new chapter in his life.

    I don't know where you find a "sad disconnection" because he is writing about his experiences? He pursued a ball career for a long time so no doubt there is some meloncholy in his tone, but I just don't know what the fuck you are talking about.

  • he has an almost sad disconnection from the game based on his writings. even though he's "been there" (no matter how much of a minor role) he doesn't seem to feel like he belongs or deserves to belong in the boy's club.

    he seems to go to great lengths to enjoy the game from an arm's length while occasionally getting close enough for a high-5 from those who affirm him that he belongs.

  • I read that guy's article about why he quit baseball and it was really well done too. In terms of Rizzo, I have seen multiple references to how this is Rizzo's team just as much as Madden's and it makes that pick up that much better that we have someone that is not only a great player but a leader and all around great guy (been reading about all the charity work he does too). There is really nothing not to like about Rizzo.

  • Nice article on Rizzo

    Written by ex teammate

  • JD concurred with Ariettas second at bat