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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  • Who says Contreras can't frame? Stone cold robbery of Eaton with that called third strike for the first out in the eighth

    Eric S 41 sec ago view
  • Three amigos time?

    7-8-9th

    jacos 15 min 31 sec ago view
  • he should hit more of those. that would be an ideal outcome. /moneyballs

    crunch 4 hours 31 min ago view
  • Russell with 19 RBI in July so far. Grand Slams help.

    billybucks 5 hours 13 min ago view
  • ...and Familia with back-to-back blown saves. Blows a one-run lead vs. Rockies today, gets his 2nd consecutive loss.

    I am OK with the Mets missing the playoffs and suffering crushing losses at home --- just want them to beat St. Louis.

    He played with fire twice agains the Cubs -- unfortunately, the Cubs couldn't stop swinging.

    billybucks 5 hours 17 min ago view
  • How about Kyle Farnsworth? I know he was consistently upper 90s.

    videographer 7 hours 11 min ago view
  • If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic

    jacos 8 hours 59 min ago view
  • I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.

    Charlie 9 hours 33 min ago view
  • I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.

    Charlie 9 hours 47 min ago view
  • They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?

    QuietMan 11 hours 11 min ago view
  • Regarding Heyward--

    He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.

    What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.

    (All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)

    VirginiaPhil 11 hours 12 min ago view
  • Lester will probably be all right.

    I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.

    Seriously.

    VirginiaPhil 11 hours 18 min ago view
  • I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.

    billybucks 11 hours 21 min ago view
  • Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?

    VirginiaPhil 11 hours 25 min ago view
  • He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.

    But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.

    billybucks 11 hours 34 min ago view
  • The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.

    VirginiaPhil 11 hours 36 min ago view