Is this team a true closer short of another WS run?

mattb78

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Cubs have looked very good recently. Leading MLB in OBP. Great starting and relief depth.

The lack of a true ACE is always going to be a problem, and the Cubs are going to have to hit their way to postseason victories, but not every team is perfect.

I think to make up for the lack of a #1 shutdown Ace (I would call Lester just short of that), Cubs are going to have to dominate the late relief innings.

They have got the money to always keep themselves rich in relief pitching, and the Cubs bullpen is very solid right now, but I feel they need to be excellent.

Cubs had a more dominant feel when they Chapman shutting down the 9th.

The Cubs are a very good ball club right now. Very good clubs can win playoffs, but they can lose them too. I think a strong closer would make this very close to a great roster, with the only weakness the lack of a #1 ACE but able to put up 3-4 quality starters in a 7 game series and make it very tough on opponents.
 

MarylandBear111

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I thought about this today on my drive home. I think things are starting to gell and this could be another world series team this season. so many things happen during the season though. I go forward with cautious optimism after years of watching this team. I do like what I see though.
regrading the closer, I say if they are in first and in the hunt come trade deadline, they go after a closer no matter the cost Almora, Happ, Russell etc. There are expendable players for another ring IMO
 

JimJohnson

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Too early to tell. They looked like a WS contender last year as well and we all know how that turned out.
 

TL1961

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If they don’t want to trade away assets, Craig Kimbrel is out there unsigned.
 
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anotheridiot

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If they don’t want to trade away assets, Craig Kimbrel is out there unsigned.
the 26th pick in next months draft is far too valuable to give up for Kimbrel (sacrasm)

We all just know St Louis or Milwaukee are gonna grab him. They dont know how to use Hader up north for three inning saves.
 

Diehardfan

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If they don’t want to trade away assets, Craig Kimbrel is out there unsigned.
There are contenders that can afford him and have the need for a closer but still are not signing him. Makes me think there may be an underlying reason....damaged goods?
 

beckdawg

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I've long believed the "dominant closer" narrative is over blown. I mean say what you will about needing Chapman in 2016 but he had a 3.45 ERA in the 2016 playoffs. That's "good" but far from being a dominant force that solely won the cubs the world series. I was going to go deep into the stats as I'm in the habit of doing but I know most people don't seem to care. Suffice to say I'll summarize it for you all. The long and short of things is the cubs may not have a "dominant" bullpen guy but I don't think that matters as much as people think it does.

The reason why is essentially the cubs have built a bullpen great at match ups. Where as a dominant closer is typically pretty good vs RH or LH batters, the cubs have guys who excel at one or the other. Strop, Brach, Ryan and Cishek are all really good vs RH hitters. The wOBA against them are .082, .214, .225 and .230 respectively. League average is .311 for reference vs RH batters. It's .323 vs LH batters. And there the cubs aren't as deep with it mainly being Kintzler(.100 wOBA), and Ryan(.242) though one would imagine Monty as a lefty would do well in those situations not to mention Cedeno who's been hurt all year is another lefty who would likely be good.

And more to the point, if the cubs are playing close games that need a dominant closer than IMO they are already playing a losing game. Look at where the cubs 2-5 are right now as hitters. Bryant after a slow start is already at a 137 wRC+. Rizzo again after a slow start is at 141. Baez was scorching to start and has cooled slightly but he's still at 157. Contreras who largely is overshadowed by the first three is at 180. Hell even Heyward who would likely be hitting 6th is at 137. You then look at their current likely starting 4 in Hamels, Hendricks, Lester and Q in some order and Lester has a 1.41/2.95 ERA/FIP and clearly knows how to pitch in playoff situations. Hamels like wise has a ton of playoff experience is at 3.38/3.65. Hendricks has had some truly dominant playoff games is at 3.19/3.09. And Q who may not have the playoff pedigree of the other 3 is 3.40/3.59.

The point I'm getting at here is if the cubs are only winning 1-0 in a playoff game then that's on the hitting and whatever happens in the bullpen is missing the forrest for the trees. Between all those bats and the very strong 4 starters they have they shouldn't be needing to win games by pulling their starter in the 4th a la MIL last year and leaning hard on a dominant bullpen. The team is built to get 6-7 strong innings out of a starter and have their bats pound opposing pitching. Are they going to score the ~5.5 runs a game they have in the playoffs? Probably not but they should be getting 3-4 runs a game.

With all that being said, I'm sure the cubs will look to improve in july and may even consider Kimbrel after the draft. But when the mets beat the cubs in 2015 it wasn't the bullpen that lost them the series. In 2017 when the dodgers eliminated them it wasn't the bullpen blowing games. It was the fact the bats went silent. I suppose you could maybe make the case that last year was slightly more on the bullpen but where were the runs in the tie game vs MIL and the wc game vs COL?
 

jooo83

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There are contenders that can afford him and have the need for a closer but still are not signing him. Makes me think there may be an underlying reason....damaged goods?
Teams are probably waiting until he's no longer tied to draft compensation. Also, he supposedly wants a contract similar to the one Wade Davis got from Colorado (3 years, 54 million).
 

beckdawg

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the 26th pick in next months draft is far too valuable to give up for Kimbrel (sacrasm)

We all just know St Louis or Milwaukee are gonna grab him. They dont know how to use Hader up north for three inning saves.
I mean no one is signing Kimbrel until after the draft at this point. And after the draft the loss of the pick goes away.
 

zack54attack

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the 26th pick in next months draft is far too valuable to give up for Kimbrel (sacrasm)

We all just know St Louis or Milwaukee are gonna grab him. They dont know how to use Hader up north for three inning saves.
Correct me if I'm wrong but MIL or STL would only have to give up like a 2nd or 3rd round pick, right? Same thing with MIL signing Grandal and if he would have signed with the White Sox, it would have cost Chicago a lot more as a draft pick.
 

zack54attack

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It's early, I agree. But there's that feeling about this team again. I think Theo will wait til the deadline, make a run at Kimbrel and if he has to give up Happ, Russell, etc for a different closer, he will.
 

TL1961

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the 26th pick in next months draft is far too valuable to give up for Kimbrel (sacrasm)

We all just know St Louis or Milwaukee are gonna grab him. They dont know how to use Hader up north for three inning saves.
St Louis has too many bodies now and Mrtinez and Reyes are coming at some point. One will go to pen.
Milwaukee has the Hater, who is hittable suddenly.
 

TL1961

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I mean no one is signing Kimbrel until after the draft at this point. And after the draft the loss of the pick goes away.
Most likely, yes. So a team will pay a full year salary in 2019 for half a year, but that’s easier to handle than losing the pick.
 

PickSix

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Completely agree with the OP. We don’t have one guy that I trust in high pressure situations. Not one. We have a real solid pen when it’s not high pressure.
Regarding Chapman’s era in the ‘16 postseason, that was totally on Maddon’s horrible misuse of him. Pitched him way to much following some new fad that didn’t fit Chapman’s abilities.
 

Diehardfan

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Of the teams that used Chapman "properly" as their closer....how many World Series did the Reds win? How many have the Yankees won?

He's won one World Series....in 2016.

Oh yes, a total misuse of his abilities.....you would've been the first one bitching if the Cubs had lost while Chapman was picking splinters out of his ass on the bench while another pitcher was getting his ass handed to him. I would've been the second one bitching.
 

CSF77

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Theo has said that he is always on the look for pitching. It just wont be of the type that will be a huge impact.

I think it will end up Chatwood. Strop and Morrow have a injury track record going. Chatwood has not been injured at all.

It really comes down to stuff in the 9th. Chatwood has 6 pitches that he can mix if he wants to or he can pound a 97 MPH 4 seam fastball.

That is what they should do. Push him into the 9th. If doesn't matter if it a save situation or not. Just get him used to throwing the last pitch.

Outside of that they should bring Maples back up. He is another with closer stuff and they need to get him in there vs major league quality talent.

End of the story Edwards, Maples and Chatwood should be the 3 guys that we should be seeing going forward. They are the 3 most talented arms and should be getting weathered. They have some solid vet types like Kintzler and Cishek. Brach that can fall back on but those 3 should be put into higher pressure.

That is my take. It is a realistic take. It is not praying for a money miracle that will never happen. Or being codependent on arms that struggle to keep over 89MPH. Seriously it is true. The hardest thrower is Kintzler at 93MPH. Rest of the pen is weaker. Edwards is respectable at 95. Maples and Chatwood both hover 98. It is really not even funny.

Those to figure out how to pound the plate it becomes video game strike out late inning.

So that is what I see as a plan going forward that makes sense. Get Edwards, Maples and Chatwood late inning. Kintzler is a great guy to get a inning out of as the first arm out of the pen.

I know it is crazy to say this. Seeing Maples and Chatwood and their walk problems. But you know what the hitters really dont beat them. I've watched Maples walk 2 guys then find the releace point and strike out the side on 12 pitches. Chatwood can still walk a guy then pound 2 seemers and force a grounder to the next guy because he has that pitch in his arsenal.
 

beckdawg

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Another thing I should probably point out is the cubs have A LOT of pitching coming. So before we start talking about trading for elite guys I think you need to take a look at a few of several guys. I'm talking Alzolay, Clifton, De La Cruz, Rowan Wick, James Norwood of the guys most aren't really thinking about but then you also have Maples who if right is dominant, Tim Collins who I thought looked good while up, Xavier Cedeno who since 2014 has a 3.10/3.39 ERA/FIP with a 8.9/3.2 k/bb per 9 and Tony Barnette who had a pretty good 2018 with a 2.39/2.97 ERA/FIP 8.89/1.71 k/bb per 9.

AAA has 5 guys over 10+ k/9 and at least 9 IP. AA has 2 who have over 10 IP and 13.5+ k/9. A+ has 5 guys with 10+ IP and 10+ k/9. A has 6 guys with 9+ IP and 10+ k/9.

The main point i'm getting at here is that IMO this isn't 2018 where you have Morrow and Strop get hurt and you reach that oh fuck moment. And when you look at a guy like Kirby Yates who was one of the better relievers last year... he was a guy who was basically 29 and who was a 10+/4+ k/bb per 9 type guy until he broke out. And most of the names I've mentioned are just legitimate bullpen arms save for ODLC/Alzolay/Clifton. I mainly mention them because they are on the 40 man. All are at the moment starters. But I'd argue the starters the cubs have coming are just as if not more compelling than any of these bullpen arms and chances are some of the starters will end up in the bullpen.
 

JimJohnson

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Another thing I should probably point out is the cubs have A LOT of pitching coming. So before we start talking about trading for elite guys I think you need to take a look at a few of several guys. I'm talking Alzolay, Clifton, De La Cruz, Rowan Wick, James Norwood of the guys most aren't really thinking about but then you also have Maples who if right is dominant, Tim Collins who I thought looked good while up, Xavier Cedeno who since 2014 has a 3.10/3.39 ERA/FIP with a 8.9/3.2 k/bb per 9 and Tony Barnette who had a pretty good 2018 with a 2.39/2.97 ERA/FIP 8.89/1.71 k/bb per 9.

AAA has 5 guys over 10+ k/9 and at least 9 IP. AA has 2 who have over 10 IP and 13.5+ k/9. A+ has 5 guys with 10+ IP and 10+ k/9. A has 6 guys with 9+ IP and 10+ k/9.

The main point i'm getting at here is that IMO this isn't 2018 where you have Morrow and Strop get hurt and you reach that oh fuck moment. And when you look at a guy like Kirby Yates who was one of the better relievers last year... he was a guy who was basically 29 and who was a 10+/4+ k/bb per 9 type guy until he broke out. And most of the names I've mentioned are just legitimate bullpen arms save for ODLC/Alzolay/Clifton. I mainly mention them because they are on the 40 man. All are at the moment starters. But I'd argue the starters the cubs have coming are just as if not more compelling than any of these bullpen arms and chances are some of the starters will end up in the bullpen.
You're not going to trust any of those young kids in high leverage playoff situations. That's a recipe for disaster.
 
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