Cubs' Bullpen Has Stepped Up Down Stretch

The Cubs have an MLB-best 2.32 bullpen ERA in September.

Bruce Levine
September 20, 2019 - 12:52 pm
Cubs reliever Rowan Wick

Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Despite a deflating 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Cardinals on Thursday night in which closer Craig Kimbrel allowed the go-ahead homer, their bullpen has been a strength amid a trying season and stepped up in this closing stretch.

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The Cubs bullpen has a 3.87 ERA for the season, which ranks third in the National League. It has been even better in September, posting a 2.32 ERA that leads all of MLB in that time span.

"Guys have stepped up and know what is at stake," reliever Steve Cishek said. "I feel as a group, we struggled a little bit and did not get the job done as often as we would have. The biggest difference is the guys that have come up, have stepped up so big. Rowen Wick has been a staple for us out there. He has really been since a huge piece for us at the end of the bullpen."

A handful of relievers who weren't much on the radar in spring training have stepped into featured roles. Wick has a 2.53 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 29 appearances and has turned into a high-leverage option for manager Joe Maddon.

Lefty reliever Kyle Ryan leads the Cubs with 69 appearances and has been reliable against dangerous lefties all season.

"We have grown as a unit," Ryan said. "When the phone rings, we have taken our turn and for the most part got it done. My key is to allow the stuff to work and not throw too hard. When I throw too hard, both the body and mind get out of whack. For me, it's make it smooth get through the pitch and not try to do too much."

The Cubs will also get reliever Brandon Kintzler back Friday after he dealt with an oblique strain recently. He has a 2.82 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Cishek has also been steady with a 3.06 ERA in 67 appearances.

"This has been a good bullpen this month," Maddon said. "We have had a really good balance with the mid-level guys, closer types and lefty and righty combinations. They have been outstanding. There has been a lot of resiliency, being able to pitch consecutive days well. A lot of good components to this bullpen."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.